Several concerned citizens attended the regular monthly meeting of the Brooklin School Board on Tuesday, June 11, to speak against the school board’s decision to cut the equivalent of one day per week from art teacher Peggi Stevens’ position for the 2013-14 school year.
That one-day equivalent is the time Stevens spends coordinating the enrichment program, which connects students to skilled community members for hands-on work. The position was cut by the school board to help fund an all-day pre-K program at the school, according to school board chairman Mike Sealander.
The intent of the board, said Sealander, was for the program to continue, with the teachers “picking up the slack” of coordinating the enrichment efforts.
Ellen Booraem, who has led a writer’s group at the school for nearly a decade, said she was concerned the elimination of the coordinator would mean the end of the program. Booraem said teachers were under incredible pressure to “teach to the test,” which doesn’t include enrichment activities.
Former school board member Jen Schroth said the school has always worked to integrate the community. “This program is a huge-difference maker,” she said.
According to meeting minutes from the February 12 board meeting, the board discussed a second draft of the school budget, including ways to fund the pre-K program. As a part of that effort, the budget would reduce the amount for roof work, assume some savings from a retirement and eliminate the enrichment coordinator position (reducing the art teacher position from three days to two days per week). Currently there are eight pre-K students signed up for the all-day program.
Booraem asked whether the board would accept funds raised by the PTF or from another source to reinstate the coordinator position. Sealander said if the faculty and staff wanted the board to accept the money, they would. The board said that as it stands, there would be no coordinator position for the 2013-14 year, though Sealander said the board could reinstate it for the 2014-15 school year, if the shift from coordinator to teachers doesn’t work.
On April 6, voters of Brooklin approved a school budget of $1.69 million, an increase of more than 5 percent over the current year’s budget, though the local share to taxpayers increased by less than 3 percent.