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Kindergarten Class Conundrum

Parents object to uptick in classroom quantities while Herricks BOE points to state mandates being the villains

The Herricks Board of Education opened last Thursday night’s meeting at the Herricks Community Center with a lengthy discussion on class sizes for Center Street kindergarten. Having received numerous objections from parents on the school’s three sections that are currently two and three students over the size guidelines, Board of Education President Christine Turner expressed complete agreement with their concerns.

“The fact that we have to go over them (class size guidelines) is not something we do lightly,” said Turner.  “We agree with you one hundred percent, but the fact is that times are different now...the money situation is tight.”

Stating that class sizes across the board in K-12 are up in every school, Turner attributed much of the district’s struggle to being pressed with the 2 percent tax cap, and APPR (Annual Professional Performance Review).  “If only we could get rid of these state mandates they keep imposing on us that cost so much money,” Turner said.

Turner updated the parents on actions that board has taken: “We’re putting a teacher aide in one class...we have already split three other classes, and we have three full-time teachers that we hired, and two TAs.”  Turner also mentioned that the board had budgeted for two additional teachers, saying “we are already over the budget in that area.”

One possible, but not widely embraced, solution that was brought up by Turner as well as Superintendent of Schools Dr. John Bierwirth, is titled ‘The Princeton Plan.’  Having discussed the plan last spring when putting together their budget, Turner explained it as: “Put[ting] all the kindergarteners in one building, the reason being all the kindergarteners would be in a big pool, where its easier to divide them up.”  According to the board, the Mineola school district started this plan last year.

“It has big pros and big cons,” Superintendent Bierwirth said.  “It is a major effort to move to the Princeton Plan.”  Another possible solution brought up would be to move toward half-day kindertarden classes. “They may be plans to consider for the future, but not here and now,” Bierwirth said.