Oct 25, 2013 Joe Genco Uncategorized
UPDATE: 10/25 2 p.m., comments from Jessica Millman added.
UPDATE 2: 10/27 5:45 p.m., an update on this story can be found here
An email sent to Skaneateles community members by Interim Superintendent of Schools Judy Pastel on Wednesday sparked public opposition in the form of an online petition.
Pastel’s email, sent out via the school district’s School News Notifier system on Oct. 23, states that the board of education will discuss its intention to study potential grade level shifts at its upcoming Nov. 5 meeting.
In the email Pastel writes: “Those shifts would involve grade two being housed at State Street while grade five would be housed at the middle school. The study and ensuing conversations are important in light of our determination to maintain and in some cases expand our excellent educational programs despite declining enrollment and financial stresses.”
The email also states that a study will be done on the subject in the next three months that will include parent and teacher study groups.
Her full message is also available on the district’s website.
On Oct. 24, Skaneateles resident Jessica Millman published a petition on gopetition.com that calls for the district to develop a more detailed plan for its future and get input from the entire community
It reads: “We, the undersigned, are kindly asking the administration and the board of education to engage the entire community (all the stakeholders from students, to teachers, to parents, to residents) in drafting a long-term plan that explores multiple options to address declining enrollment and required Common Core Learning Standards.”
As of Friday afternoon, the petition had more than 100 signatures, most of which included names.
Millman said that the petition was not meant to be adversarial, but to express to the board and administration that the community wants to explore a variety of paths in planning for its future.
“We’d like an open dialogue where we can discuss ways to deal with declining enrollment,” she said.
Millman said on Friday that she was contacted by Pastel and that they were going to meet in person to discuss the matter.
Signers of the petition were also able to leave comments and some of them expressed concerns about the possibility of space in Waterman school being leased to local preschool programs.
This is not the first time this year that the district has made or talked about making changes to respond to declining enrollment and pending financial problems.
The board, as per Pastel’s recommendation, recently moved to consolidate its administration by having Stephen Widrick become the elementary principal in charge of both State Street Intermediate School and Waterman Primary School. That change along with Waterman principal Gary Gerst taking over at the middle school are set to occur in February 2014.
The 2013-14 school year is also the first year for which the district has full-day kindergarten and Pastel recently noted at a meeting that this year’s incoming class of 80 students is a sharp decline from the most recent graduating class which numbered more than 140.
Joe Genco is the editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.