Friday, November 21, 2008

Two State Championship Teams in One Season

The Board of Education recognized the accomplishments of the Boys Soccer and Girls Cross Country teams, both of whom won state championships this season. Principal Terry Barton and Athletic Director Karen Peterson introduced the coaches who, in turn, introduced their players. The introductions were followed by a brief slide show.

What Do You Know?

Dr. Martin Brooks, executive director of the Tri-State Consortium, gave the Bronxville Board of Education an overview of the Tri-State Consortium accreditation program, which emphasizes a continuous improvement process.

The Consortium brings together forty-two school districts in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut. Visiting committees of educators from member schools evaluate the quality of specific programs on a three-year cycle. The Consortium last conducted an evaluation of Bronxville’s K-12 mathematics program in 2005 and is slated to assess K-12 science in the fall of 2009. Dr. Brooks contrasted the limits of standardized testing with performance assessment: “Standardized tests ask ‘Do you know this?’”, he said. “Performance assessments ask, ‘What do you know?'”

Board members asked questions about what the District will learn from the K-12 science review, how best practices are identified and shared, and whether our current scope and sequence will be validated. Dr. Brooks said the report would be organized around essential questions developed by the faculty.

Superintendent David Quattrone said the essential questions under consideration address curriculum alignment, inquiry skills, technology applications, and the educational needs of diverse learners. These questions dovetail nicely with the professional development themes that have been adopted for the next three years. Over this period of time, he said, he expects achievement levels to remain high and stable, but the faculty will design new units of study and develop technology applications that promote depth of inquiry, authenticity, and engagement with real-world problems.

Sophomore Showcase

Bronxville High School students display and demonstrate their work for parents and teachers

Board Seeks to Curb Spending

At its November meeting, the Bronxville Board of Education asked the administration to curtail spending wherever possible. The administration will identify potential savings this year in an effort to offset expected pressures on next year's budget.

Assistant Superintendent Dan Carlin described the revenue picture as uncertain. Although the Governor proposed a 10% cut in this year’s state aid, that reduction has not yet been enacted. However, the Legislature is reconvening in December. There may also be shortfalls in county sales tax, tuition, and interest.

Mr. Carlin went on to describe the expenditure picture. Despite utility increases, expenditures appear to be much less of a concern than revenues at this point. Expenditure projections are expected to come in under budget, thereby compensating for anticipated revenue shortfalls.

The Board also considered the planning assumptions that will guide the 2009 school operating budget. Superintendent David Quattrone reported that enrollment is stable and that any changes in staffing would occur within existing levels. Budget planning will begin with a projection of a “stand still” budget – what will it cost to run the same programs in 2009-2010 given contractual and other known obligations. Then, the Board will review the programmatic and financial impact of possible reductions in order to minimize any tax increases. The budget will also provide information about relative costs -- how Bronxville's pattern of expenditures relate to other Westchester school districts. A draft budget will be presented at a workshop in February.