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January 7, 2013

Superintendents: Fiscal changes critical to education reform

PLATTSBURGH — The New York Education Reform Commission’s report on improving the state’s education system leaves something to be desired, according to area school leaders.

“It falls far short of what we need to do and doesn’t address many of the challenges that our local schools are facing with finances,” Superintendent of Chazy Central Rural School John Fairchild said.

The recently released document lists seven preliminary recommendations for

strengthening the academic pipeline from prekindergarten through college.

Established by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last April, the Education Reform group comprises American education, community and business leaders and has been tasked with studying the state’s education system and suggesting ways to better meet the needs of students while being respectful of taxpayers.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Topping the committee’s list of recommendations are to: 

▶ Increase access to high-quality, full-day prekindergarten. 

▶ Better integrate social and health services into schools. 

▶ Restructure the school day and year to extend learning time. 

▶ Increase the innovative use of technology in classrooms.

Also suggested in the report are to:

▶ Better bridge the path from high school to college and careers. 

▶ Increase access to educational opportunities through district consolidations and regional high schools and streamline district reporting to increase fiscal transparency and accountability.

LITTLE NEW GROUND

Many area superintendents noted that the bulk of these recommendations are fairly obvious and reflect ideas that have been topics of discussion among educators for quite some time.

“I didn’t really feel like the recommendations were telling us anything new,” said Scott Osborne, superintendent of Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School.

Fairchild agreed, saying, for example, there is no doubt that early childhood education, access to social and health services and integrated technology are beneficial to students, but the question becomes, “Where’s the money for this coming from?”

“They’re all great ideas,” added James “Jake” Short, superintendent of Plattsburgh City School District, “but I get skeptical about how we’re going to pay for them.”

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