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Denebola » Daniel Barabasi http://www.denebolaonline.net The Award-Winning, Official School Newspaper of Newton South High School, Newton, MA Fri, 17 Jun 2011 02:00:19 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.0.2 Elementary school music update http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/04/15/elementary-school-music-update/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/04/15/elementary-school-music-update/#comments Fri, 15 Apr 2011 05:48:44 +0000 Daniel Barabasi http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=5769 For the Music Department, recent cuts have hit hard, especially on the elementary school level. Fourth grade chorus and third grade recorder programs are being eliminated.
Along with cuts there are increases in fees like $200 for elementary instrumental music and a new $200 fee for All-City Band and Chorus groups.
South’s music department is mainly dependent on enrollment, so many smaller groups such, as music technology, are first to be cut or are forced to run less blocks. Due to the cuts in elementary school music programs, however, South spots troubles in the future. “What we are going to see is a reduction in the number and quality of musicians in the future,” Fine and Performing Arts Departments Head Jeff Knoedler said.
“When cuts start at the elementary school level it magnifies the effect that it has on the high school music program,” Music teacher Jason Squinobal said. When you cut the students’ first experience, like the recorder class, students start to learn to play later and they start to learn to play in a group together.”
The cuts in music will also bleed into the enrollment of classes like music theory, “Students will not be as interested in learning music theory as they won’t have the experience of what it is like to talk about reading music, playing scales, or learning theory at that third grade level,” Squinobal said.
Often due to a smaller priority assigned to the arts in comparison to other departments, the fine and performing arts have a tradition of being the first to feel the effect of negative changes in the school budget.
“It seems like arts in general is deemed less important than what people call the big five academic departments, English, History, Science, Math and World Language. When you place a higher priority on the big five, the arts become more expendable and are cut first,” Squinobal said.
Lisa Linde worries for future students. “I think all of Newton’s performing groups, which includes about twenty percent of our school, and around 50% of middle school students, will feel the heat in the next ten to fifteen years,” she said.

For the Music Department, recent cuts have hit hard, especially on the elementary school level. Fourth grade chorus and third grade recorder programs are being eliminated. Along with cuts there are increases in fees like $200 for elementary instrumental music and a new $200 fee for All-City Band and Chorus groups.South’s music department is mainly dependent on enrollment, so many smaller groups such, as music technology, are first to be cut or are forced to run less blocks. Due to the cuts in elementary school music programs, however, South spots troubles in the future. “What we are going to see is a reduction in the number and quality of musicians in the future,” Fine and Performing Arts Departments Head Jeff Knoedler said.“When cuts start at the elementary school level it magnifies the effect that it has on the high school music program,” Music teacher Jason Squinobal said. When you cut the students’ first experience, like the recorder class, students start to learn to play later and they start to learn to play in a group together.”The cuts in music will also bleed into the enrollment of classes like music theory, “Students will not be as interested in learning music theory as they won’t have the experience of what it is like to talk about reading music, playing scales, or learning theory at that third grade level,” Squinobal said.Often due to a smaller priority assigned to the arts in comparison to other departments, the fine and performing arts have a tradition of being the first to feel the effect of negative changes in the school budget. “It seems like arts in general is deemed less important than what people call the big five academic departments, English, History, Science, Math and World Language. When you place a higher priority on the big five, the arts become more expendable and are cut first,” Squinobal said.Lisa Linde worries for future students. “I think all of Newton’s performing groups, which includes about twenty percent of our school, and around 50% of middle school students, will feel the heat in the next ten to fifteen years,” she said.

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Department heads plan around fiscal year 2012 budget http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/04/15/department-heads-plan-around-fiscal-year-2012-budget/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/04/15/department-heads-plan-around-fiscal-year-2012-budget/#comments Fri, 15 Apr 2011 05:11:53 +0000 Daniel Barabasi http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=5793 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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