Thursday, March 31, 2011

"When It Comes To Class Size, Smaller Isn't Always Better, "by Andrew J. Rotherham, TIME, March 3, 2011

Receive this from CABE and thought I'd share it here. Trying to get off the subject of Budget and Special Ed for a short while.

Looming budget cuts have put class size at the center of the national education debate, writes Andrew Rotherham in TIME Magazine. At least 45 states will face some budget shortfall for the fiscal year that begins this July, according to The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Secretary of Education Duncan has stated that scarce resources will be the "new normal" for schools.

Rotherham feels anxiety over the class size issue is misplaced. He indicated that school districts, states, and the federal government have tested class-size reduction as a school-improvement strategy for years, and research shows smaller classes are better only if the teacher is very good. Students are better off with 28 or 30 students in the classroom and a great teacher than 22 classmates and a mediocre teacher. On top of this, to make a significant difference in student achievement, "smaller" must mean fewer than 16 students, and benefits are greatest in the early grades and for at-risk youth.

"As is too often the case in education, that research is almost completely at odds with current practice," Rotherham writes. "Instead of lowering class size a lot for the students who most need it, school districts generally lower it a little for everyone." Therefore, across-the-board increases in class size is poor policy, in Rotherham's opinion. He feels it's important to go much smaller for some students, but fine to go larger for others. Districts should also consider ways to innovate with technology, schedules, and classroom configurations to increase student-teacher interaction.
He also stressed that it is time to get serious about teacher quality by making better decisions about hiring, evaluation and tenure.
Source: "When It Comes To Class Size, Smaller Isn't Always Better, "by Andrew J. Rotherham, TIME, March 3, 2011.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Special Ed Shortfall Update/Letter to TC

We received a report from the CT State Dept of Ed detailing what our Excess Cost reimbursement will be for the current fiscal year. According to the report, Cheshire will receive $851,204. The Town Revenue Budget for 2010-2011 appropriated $484,209 for excess cost reimbursement. In short, Cheshire is receiving $366,995 above what it budgeted for revenue. With the $366,995 to cover a significant portion of the $463,311 over-expenditure. The remainder can be managed within the education budget.

Dr. Florio sent a letter (below) to the TC describing the reimbursement, the over-expenditure for Outplacement Tuition/Transportation in the current budget and asking for a meeting to discuss next steps. It's self-explanatory.

Tonight's Joint TC Special Meeting & Budget Committee Meeting 6:30pm

6:30 P.M., TUESDAY, MARCH 15, 2011
1. Roll Call.
2. Pledge of Allegiance.
3. Proposed FY 2011-2012 Operating Budget, Programmatic Budgets.
Cultural Services (Library, Library Board, Performing & Fine Arts Committee)
4. Adjournment.

* Education budget is expected to be discussed around 7pm or so.

RTC 26th Annual Spaghetti Supper Friday March 18th

Always a fun time with great people, great food and oh so much great food!  :-)  I'll be helping out in he kitchen which, for me, is always a treat. Join us and bring your appetite!


Monday, March 7, 2011

Blog Updates on Tap This Week...

I'm trying to dig myself out of the weeds so I can post up a bevvy of topic updates this week. I have some new detail to post:

  • Special Education Reimbursement. Final numbers have been posted by Hartford and it appears we'll be receiving ~$350K more (town reimbursement) than expected.
  • Finance Committee Updates:
    • Preliminary analysis on closing a school such as Darcey or Chapman.
    • Preliminary analysis on phasing out grade levels from Chapman and moving those grades to the remaining elementary schools.
    • CHS Electives review
    • CHS AP Course review
    • Update on extra-curricular fee options
  • Current education budget overrun(s) on Special Ed/Transportation Costs, CHS Air Quality costs, Snow Removal/Overtime costs
  • Possible BOE action (3/17) to request CNR money to cover the CHS Air Quality'/Snow related expenses. 
  • Planning Committee Meeting (3/11):
    • On tap: 
      • Synthetic Turf  and Track Replacement Project
        • Formation of Permanent Turf Planning Committee or Subcommittee
    • Dodd Kitchen Renovation – Final Phases   
    • Cheshire High School Locker Room Project 
    • SMART Board Usage Survey
    • Technology Infrastructure Improvement Plan
  • Town Manager's Budget to be delivered to the TC on 3/10
This should be a very busy week!