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Jericho School Board Adopts Proposed 2012-2013 Budget

Board commends superintendent for being named NY State School Superintendent of the Year

After several public budget workshops and many months of deliberations, the Jericho Board of Education adopted a proposed budget of $114,468,464 for the 2012-13 school year at its March 15 regular meeting at Cantiague Elementary School.

The community will have the chance to approve or reject the adopted budget in a public vote slated for Tuesday, May 15, in the Jericho High School gymnasium between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Jericho schools, along with dozens of other districts across Long Island, face the difficult task of passing the 2012-13 school budget despite New York State’s new 2 percent property tax cap. The cap, which was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo in June, limits the increase in property taxes each year for school districts and local municipalities to just 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower, excluding certain exemptions.

The new tax cap meant that school budget talks started early this year in Jericho, and numerous cost-saving measures were taken into account.  In a recent budget workshop meeting, Victor Manuel, Jericho’s assistant superintendent for business affairs, detailed some of the reductions that were necessary to adopt a budget for the upcoming school year.  

Among the most notable updated reductions included the consolidation of the high/middle school assistant principal position (completed earlier this school year), absorption of at least three clerical positions through attrition, not replacing three teaching retirees, elimination of part-time clerical positions from central office, absorb one janitor through attrition, excess one additional cleaner, reduce custodial overtime, reduce three literacy aides, one FLES teacher (from three to two), one elementary science teacher (from three to two), reduce one elementary facilitator (from three to two); reduce one secondary facilitator, one speech therapist and eliminate a part-time music teacher. The budget reassigns Brave Ambassador responsibilities to guidance staff and maintain current level of guidance staff, eliminate LI Philharmonic and Fashion Show, reduce Arts in education assemblies, reduce middle school clubs/intramurals, reduce field trips and one Middle School teacher due to enrollment. The special education co-teaching model will expand in elementary schools as well as in 10th grade.

Other savings will be found in utilities/energy, and classes at the high school and middle school levels will not run with fewer than 17 students, unless the class is part of a required sequence. Additional reductions/efficiencies are recommended in early high school and after-school transportation and elementary services such as video and newspaper.

In other matters, the board recognized the district’s award-winning students from the LIPC Essay Contest and Toshiba ExploraVision Competition, as well as its high school chess team, which earned a second-place finish in the Nassau County Chess Championship.

The board praised Superintendent Henry Grishman for his recent selection as New York State School Superintendent of the Year for 2012.  Board Vice President William Ferro said he was especially impressed by the speech Grishman gave during the awards ceremony to honor him that took place earlier this year in Albany.

“The message that he was able to present so eloquently was that here in Jericho, as people should throughout the state and country, we educate every single student to the best of our ability, every single day,” Ferro said. “He stressed that every student should be looked at individually and taught individually. I think not only did folks in Jericho appreciate that, but the fact that his speech was stopped a half dozen times for a rousing ovation, spoke volumes about the person that he is.”

Math Curriculum Associate Helene Kriegstein also gave a presentation on the way elementary mathematics will be taught in the district starting next fall. Jericho will be implementing Math In Focus, a method of teaching mathematical concepts from concrete through pictorial to abstract.

The hallmark of the curriculum is the careful guidance of students, done in a child-friendly pictorial language, not only to technical mastery, but to complete understanding of all the “whys,” according to the presentation. Math In Focus goes along with the new NYS Common Core Learning Standards, which emphasizes a students’ deeper understanding of concepts, rather than just memorization skills.