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Department heads plan around fiscal year 2012 budget

Posted By Daniel Barabasi On April 15, 2011 @ 1:11 am In News | Comments Disabled

The new public school budget for Newton, approved on April 5, comes as a hard hit for department heads and classes alike. The 2011-2012 school year will see an increase in class sizes as well as a decrease in staffing and classes.
As of now, the History and Social Sciencedepartment is planning to cut three classes. “We cut based on signups and trying to keep class sizes reasonable,” History Department Head Robert Parlin said.
One of the main classes not running for the history department in the next year is Advanced Placement (AP) European History, which has run for many years in the past. “We have to set priorities based on how many people have signed up and so we cannot run a class of 15 and run a class of 30 elsewhere,” Parlin explained.
A new course, AP Comparative Government, is starting up in its place and has been overenrolled.
The mathematics department is expecting to have similar trouble. AP Computer Science will not be running next year due to under enrollment.
On the other hand, Curriculum I and Honors classes will see an increase in class sizes to over 30 students per class.
This is not an ideal situation for any department, but other options seemed more detrimental in the long run.
“We could have decided to cap numbers for Honors and AP classes at a lower number, but that would leave more students with missed opportunities,” Math Department Head Steven Rattendi said.
Increased class sizes can also lead to effects inside the classrooms.
“There might be cut backs on writing assignments, which will be determined on a course-by-course basis. An AP course that has a research paper every quarter and the class is 32 kids could see the teacher saying that he or she couldn’t give a research paper every quarter because of time constraints,” Parlin said.
In the World Language department, under-enrollment and cuts based on under-enrollment are hitting lower-level classes harder than in other departments.
Out of the four introductory courses offered at south (Spanish 1, Chinese 1, Latin 1, and French 1) only Spanish 1 and one other will be offered next year. The classes that see the least enrollment will be canceled. This, however, causes difficulties for students, as South requires two years of language and colleges often scout for three.
”Such restrictions are not permanent. It is just that all departments are forced to make cuts. We want to speak to students at the middle school level to make sure that Latin 1 [ and all the other courses] can come back the year after,” World Language Department Head Suzanne DeRobert said.
To account for decreased number of classes being taught, 1.25 positions are being cut in the Math and World Language departments and 0.75 positions are being cut in the English department as well as more position-cuts in other departments. This does not mean a whole teacher and then a quarter of another teacher is being fired, rather teachers will be teaching five blocks less total per week in the Math and World Language departments.
In the case of the Math department, a decline in the budget was planned for. “We anticipated a cut in our budget and we decided beforehand how many sections of each class we were going to run,” Rattendi said. “Now that the budget is official, we just have to make our plans official as well.”
The English department made similar plans.
“We have done our work and anticipated cuts. All we know are figures. The biggest variable is senior year enrollment, due to the large number of courses we offer,” English Department Head Brian Baron said.
As schedules come closer to becoming finalized, the strain that budget cuts put out radiate further.
“It is not ideal and it is not going to be easy, but the whole budget won’t be easy,” Rattendi said.
The current hope of the district is to offer the best that they have with what they have available. DeRobert described the efforts of her and her fellow administrators as, “we have to concentrate our resources to teach what we can.”

By Daniel BarabasiThe new public school budget for Newton, approved on April 5, comes as a hard hit for department heads and classes alike. The 2011-2012 school year will see an increase in class sizes as well as a decrease in staffing and classes.As of now, the History and Social Sciencedepartment is planning to cut three classes. “We cut based on signups and trying to keep class sizes reasonable,” History Department Head Robert Parlin said.One of the main classes not running for the history department in the next year is Advanced Placement (AP) European History, which has run for many years in the past. “We have to set priorities based on how many people have signed up and so we cannot run a class of 15 and run a class of 30 elsewhere,” Parlin explained. A new course, AP Comparative Government, is starting up in its place and has been overenrolled.The mathematics department is expecting to have similar trouble. AP Computer Science will not be running next year due to under enrollment. On the other hand, Curriculum I and Honors classes will see an increase in class sizes to over 30 students per class.This is not an ideal situation for any department, but other options seemed more detrimental in the long run. “We could have decided to cap numbers for Honors and AP classes at a lower number, but that would leave more students with missed opportunities,” Math Department Head Steven Rattendi said.Increased class sizes can also lead to effects inside the classrooms. “There might be cut backs on writing assignments, which will be determined on a course-by-course basis. An AP course that has a research paper every quarter and the class is 32 kids could see the teacher saying that he or she couldn’t give a research paper every quarter because of time constraints,” Parlin said.In the World Language department, under-enrollment and cuts based on under-enrollment are hitting lower-level classes harder than in other departments. Out of the four introductory courses offered at south (Spanish 1, Chinese 1, Latin 1, and French 1) only Spanish 1 and one other will be offered next year. The classes that see the least enrollment will be canceled. This, however, causes difficulties for students, as South requires two years of language and colleges often scout for three.”Such restrictions are not permanent. It is just that all departments are forced to make cuts. We want to speak to students at the middle school level to make sure that Latin 1 [ and all the other courses] can come back the year after,” World Language Department Head Suzanne DeRobert said. To account for decreased number of classes being taught, 1.25 positions are being cut in the Math and World Language departments and 0.75 positions are being cut in the English department as well as more position-cuts in other departments. This does not mean a whole teacher and then a quarter of another teacher is being fired, rather teachers will be teaching five blocks less total per week in the Math and World Language departments.In the case of the Math department, a decline in the budget was planned for. “We anticipated a cut in our budget and we decided beforehand how many sections of each class we were going to run,” Rattendi said. “Now that the budget is official, we just have to make our plans official as well.”The English department made similar plans. “We have done our work and anticipated cuts. All we know are figures. The biggest variable is senior year enrollment, due to the large number of courses we offer,” English Department Head Brian Baron said.As schedules come closer to becoming finalized, the strain that budget cuts put out radiate further. “It is not ideal and it is not going to be easy, but the whole budget won’t be easy,” Rattendi said.  The current hope of the district is to offer the best that they have with what they have available. DeRobert described the efforts of her and her fellow administrators as, “we have to concentrate our resources to teach what we can.”

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Article printed from Denebola: http://www.denebolaonline.net

URL to article: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/04/15/department-heads-plan-around-fiscal-year-2012-budget/

URLs in this post:

[1] Elementary school music update: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/04/15/elementary-school-music-update/

[2] Parlin named interim History head: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/06/10/parlin-named-interim-history-head/

[3] The history of South’s World Language Department: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/02/15/the-history-of-souths-world-language-department/

[4] “Cuts”: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/03/23/%e2%80%9ccuts%e2%80%9d/

[5] Budget deficits cause stress among staff: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/10/28/budget-deficits-cause-stress-among-staff/

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