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Blind Brook Board Discusses Budget Alterations

RYE BROOK, N.Y. - The Blind Brook Board of Education discussed a variety of budget tweaks Monday including eliminating two foreign language teachers.

In February, the district's Superintendent William Stark presented a preliminary budget that increased the property tax levy 1.71 percent . Among cuts proposed by Stark was the elimination of two foreign language elementary school (FLES) teachers.

Members of the board were concerned the decrease in exposure could damage children's ability to comprehend a language.

"With the one FLES teacher, would it be better to give the full attention to three grades and shoot for the benefit for grades third, fourth and fifth?," board member Jeff Diamond asked.

Blind Brook High School Principal Gina Healy spoke about the importance of maintaining consistent exposure at all grade levels.

"What's unique about FLES is that it's language learning when children are really ripe to learn language," Healy said. "I think that the experience we are able to offer is something that we should prize and hold on to."

According to board member Steve Kaplan, the district, through meetings with the Port Chester School District, is exploring interactive cooperative programs with Spanish speaking students from the neighboring village that could benefit both districts.

"One of the things we specifically spoke about were the opportunities for our students to engage their Spanish speaking students as a supplement to what we're losing with FLES," Kaplan said. "It's one of those things we'd like to see down the road, more of that cooperation."

The board also heard from representatives of the district's Citizen's Financial Advisory Committee, which is charged with advising the board on potential financial oversights. The board heard from one representative from each of the CFAC's six area specific subcommittees - energy, transportation, labor, line item, capitol and revenue.

CFAC member Andrew Tilzner suggested, on behalf of the transportation subcommittee, that the district reevaluate the way it buses kindergarten students for their "call back" program. The "call back" program is a six week program that takes place in the beginning of the school year that institutes irregular dismissal times for kindergartners.

"Instead of dismissing the students at 2:30 p.m. and noon, dismiss the students at the 3:10 p.m. regular dismissal," Tilzner said. "This will have an approximately $3,000 budgetary savings, but more importantly this extended period will give the kindergartners an additional 22 1/2 hours of exposure to teachers."

Tilzner also said that changing the bus schedule would save the district custodial hours and place less of a burden on the district's families. According to Taylor, the "call back" program is something the school is constantly reviewing and revising.

"It's a consideration," Taylor said. "If you're looking at call back and the purpose of call back is to have that small group instruction, then let's think about that 2:30 to 3:10 time as well. We always look to improve and adjust."

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