As school districts across the Capital Region continue to cut programs and staffing to adjust to losses in state aid, the Broadalbin-Perth Central School District is looking to add an administrator to help teachers and students transition to the state’s Common Core standards.
The district’s proposed $31.5 million spending plan for 2014-15 includes funding for a new position: director of curriculum and instruction/grant coordinator. The budget increases spending by 4.8 percent and calls for a tax levy increase of 2.14 percent, or an estimated $38 for a home assessed at $100,000, and was unanimously adopted by the Board of Education during a special meeting Tuesday. It will go to voters May 20.
“So far, we’ve seen a great deal of success with implementing Common Core in our schools, but it’s been a much more intense transition than we originally anticipated,” Superintendent of Schools Stephen Tomlinson said in a news release. “We’ve also been proud of the success we’ve seen with winning competitive grants to fund new programs, but without proper management of these programs we could jeopardize future grant funding.
“It’s vitally important that we have someone dedicated to overseeing both the transition to Common Core and our grant-funded programs.”
School districts across the state have been scrambling to put resources in place to help teachers and students adjust to the more rigorous Common Core standards passed by the Board of Regents in 2010 and first incorporated into state exams last year, said Carl Korn, New York State United Teachers spokesman.
“Districts have been working on this, but it’s very complex, and it’s exactly why New York should have slowed down and given districts the support they need to address this dramatic sea change in standards,” he said.
At Broadalbin-Perth, the new administrator would start July 1 and be paid a yearly salary of $80,000 to oversee the district’s transition to the Common Core, which would include coordinating professional development for teachers and collaborating with BOCES and state Education Department officials. The administrator would also manage four competitive state grants totaling more than $1.3 million, and a portion of the director’s salary would be paid with grant funding.
The director of curriculum would also help the district of nearly 2,000 students navigate curriculum outside the Common Core such as the arts, physical education, health and business.
Tomlinson said the position is long overdue for the district that has a “bare-bones” administrative staff. The district has saved nearly $400,000 in wages and benefits over the past three years by eliminating and consolidating high-level management positions, he said.
“Every school district around us that’s our size already has a director of curriculum,” he said, naming Ballston Spa, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Amsterdam and Saratoga Springs as examples. “We do not have this position.”
The Greater Amsterdam School District, which has about 3,750 students, has a director of elementary instruction and federal programs, and a director of secondary instruction.
“In the case of the Common Core and trying to align that with our curriculum, we have started off doing extensive curriculum mapping throughout the district,” district Superintendent Thomas Perillo said. “[Those administrators] have worked extensively with our building-level administrators and our teachers to make sure that the mapping has happened.”
Perillo said Broadalbin-Perth’s plan to hire a director of curriculum shows that the district is “headed in the right direction.”
“Because it’s gotten to the point where to have all that fall on the shoulders of the building-level administrators and/or the superintendent is quite a bit of work, so I really do think that that position is probably a needed one for them,” he said.
Broadalbin-Perth’s proposed budget expands several student programs in the science, technology, engineering, arts and math disciplines and includes no teacher layoffs, Tomlinson said.
“I couldn’t in good conscience look to add this position if I were cutting programs or teachers,” Tomlinson said.