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WLC School Board and Budget Committee differ on curriculum issues

  • The Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative School Board and Budget Committee met on Tuesday to discuss the budget and warrant articles. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • The Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative School Board members Alex LoVerme and Mark Legere listen to budget talks. Staff photo by Ashley Saari



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Of the trims proposed in the Wilton-Lyndeborough school budget, the School Board took most issue with those they saw as impacting curriculum development, which has been a focus for the district this year.

During Tuesday’s joint School Board and Budget Committee meeting, the Budget Committee requested clarification on some areas where they proposed cuts. Some were what could be considered discretionary items, such as replacing cafeteria tables or shelving units and replacement for rugs in the elementary school, but the School Board pushed back on a cut of a math “coach” meant to work with the teachers to improve math instruction.

About $35,000 in cuts impacted curriculum instruction, including about $18,000 for the math coach. 

One parent in the audience said she saw benefit in additional math instruction for the teachers.

“Professional development in math, I think it’s something we have to have,” said Brianne Lavallee of Lyndeborough. “We have multiple students struggling with math. It’s necessary.”

Another budget point – this one that the majority of both boards agreed upon – was avoiding changing the middle school model. The re-arrangement would have allowed the district to eliminate two teachers in the middle school and save about $90,000, as well as giving eighth-grade students additional access to some high school level courses, including languages, Algebra I, technical, arts and music courses. But the School Board had concerns about the increase in class sizes for the incoming sixth grade, which would go from three classrooms to two.

While the class sizes would still be within the district’s guidelines, they would be larger by several students than any other classes in the district.

School Board member Matt Ballou also reiterated concerns that the change had not been sufficiently reviewed by the board or its effects made clear. The district had studied and discussed moving the sixth grade to the middle/high school for more than a year before implementing it, in comparison, he said.

Other board members suggested that the re-arrangement seemed more motivated by the financial savings than what was best for students. School Board member Carol LeBlanc suggested as much, saying that she had heard more about the cost benefits than why it was good for students, and would need additional information on pros and cons before she was willing to support it. 

District Superintendent Bryan Lane said that another option could be the board putting the question to its strategic planning subcommittee, to study between now and September. That would allow sufficient time for the board to study the issue, as well as inform the general public and hold public hearings to receive feedback, in order to make a decision from the start of next year’s budgeting process. The board seemed generally in favor of that option, rather than throwing out the idea wholesale.

“If we discourage that type of out-of-the-box thinking, we’re not going to get any new ideas,” said School Board member Charlie Post. 

Harry Dailey, the School Board Chair, who is also on the strategic planning subcommittee, said he had no issue with the subcommittee taking up the question for study, but said he was unclear what the exact objections of the board were.

 

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.