PORT CHESTER, N.Y. -- Class sizes and the budget were among the issues discussed Tuesday night during a debate between candidates for the Port Chester Board of Education.
Incumbent board member Carolee Brakewood said that class sizes are one of the areas where the district could see the most improvement. "Enrollment has crept up over time, and we have limited space in the district," she said. She added that during her three years on the board, the district has looked for options to reduce class sizes, including building more and renting space. "We're studying the space issues and trying to figure out when would be the most appropriate time to ask voters to come forward and support more investment."
Challenger James Carriere agreed that lower class sizes was a priority. "Class sizes have to be reduced. Studies show that the larger a class gets, the less teacher-student relationship you have. We have to get class sizes down to where the student and teacher can have a better one-on-one interaction."
When asked what they would do to reduce the budget, both candidates said that they would not look to cut spending in areas that would hurt students and teachers. Carriere said he would look at the fund balance, which is $3 million in the proposed 2013-14 budget.
"That's where you have to start when you start looking at how many different ways you could trim the budget," he said. He said the money in the fund balance could be spent in other ways. "Why don't we take that money and help the taxpayer?"
Brakewood said that the fund balance is important in case there's an emergency that needs to be taken care of. She pointed to previous methods used to reduce spending, such as renegotiating contracts with teachers, offering teacher retirement incentives and asking for more state aid.
Brakewood and Carriere are running for the one open seat on the Board. Elections will be held May 21.
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