CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – After internally discussing new middle school scheduling models over the past year to deal with budgetary restrictions, the Chappaqua Central School District shared its ideas with community members at Robert E. Bell Middle School on Monday night in an effort to gain feedback.
“The knowledge café process is a time to discuss, it’s a time for other perspectives, it’s a time to suspend judgment,” said Superintendent Lyn McKay. “It’s a true exploration tonight, and we’re all willing to learn from it.”
According McKay, the district has already had to cut 80 teacher, administrative, clerical and janitorial positions in the last three years, and expects the trend to continue.
“We’re probably going to be looking at staff reduction again,” said McKay. “We’re stuck.”
The district predicts that they will see an enrollment decrease of 129 students in the middle schools by the 2016-17 school year.
Due to the projected budgetary and enrollment decreases, the district brought in Michael Rettig, an outside scheduling associate. Rettig worked with the district on models for the 2012-13 school year that would save the school money while also making sense from an instructional standpoint.
The district shared four preliminary models on Monday:
The first model presented is what the school currently uses, which is nine 40-minute periods and keeping two middle schools in the district. There would be no change in budget.
The second model would keep the nine 40-minute period model, but would split the schools into a fifth and sixth grade school, and a seventh and eighth grade school. Staffing would be reduced by two to three positions, but busing costs would increase by $200,000. This model is anticipated to save the district between $0-100,000.
The third model proposes seven 56-minute class periods, one 30-minute lunch period, and would keep two middle schools in the district. Staffing would be reduced by five or six positions and busing costs would remain the same. This model is expected to save the district between $500,000-600,000.
The fourth model features the most radical change, as it proposes seven 56-minute class periods, one 30-minute lunch period, and would split the schools into a fifth and sixth grade school, and a seventh and eighth grade school. Staffing would be reduced by seven or eight positions while busing costs would increase by $200,000. The model’s anticipated savings is the same as the third model.
“Everything in scheduling is about the trade-off,” said Rettig. “What do we value the most? You get this, you lose that. I always thought that was the prime rule of school scheduling. If you put something in, you’ve got to take something out.”
McKay, Rettig and board said they will take feedback and re-work the models as necessary. They will be discussed further at the Nov. 15 board of education meeting.