Niagara Gazette

Local News

April 22, 2013

Niagara-Wheatfield school board looking at cutting kindergarten to close budget gap


Niagara Gazette — Capoluco said he’s already considering his options regarding selling his home in the district because of the financial situation. But eliminating kindergarten would be the final straw, he said.

Other parents, like Angela Desai, decided to combat the district’s request with fear, a tactic which appeared to register with the board, based on facial expressions. Desai said future students in the district would suffer immensely, which would lead parents to consider another alternative.

Her focus was on New York state’s controversial and mandatory assessments, which were just completed for English Language Arts in grades 3-8 Thursday. She said kindergarten lays the framework for the successes and failures of children later in schooling and eliminating it would hinder development, pushing back instruction a full year.

And when it comes time to take the state’s mandated tests in third grade, the students are going to be at a complete disadvantage compared to those in other districts, she said.

“I think this is completely unreasonable,” parent Angela Desai said. “Kindergarten is the foundation for everything the district does later in life. You’ll be sending children into first grade without the basic skills they’ll need. And second grade will be devoted to teaching first grade material. So, with these state tests, in third grade they’ll be so far behind what’s expected of them. If you think the tests this year are making the kids sick and worried, wait until you cut kindergarten.”

But despite the pleas from parents, the district’s board and administrators must find a way to reduce district proposed expenses from a projected $63.7 million to $62.7 million to match the money it’s expecting in revenues. The district is coming off last year’s massive layoffs of more than 60 staff members and 40 teachers. Officials are concerned the district can’t handle more.

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