Weekly Feature

2012-03-14 / Front Page

Board approves athletic selection revisions, hears budget comments


The Clarence Board of Education approved changes on Monday to its athletic selection classification process, which had been the subject of discussion at a number of previous meetings.

(See editorial on page four)

The more recent revisions were developed after the number of eighth-graders chosen for the varsity girls soccer team drew the attention of the board.

The wording approved Monday says that selectively classified eighth-graders must be “projected to start or receive significant playing time.”

Among other stipulations, the policy requires that eighth-graders “elevated to advanced levels of competition by this process should be few and far between,” and states that “The program is intended only for the unusually gifted athlete who has the physical maturity and athletic skills to be placed on a team at the varsity level as well as being able to safely compete with older more physically developed athletes.”

In another matter, high school Principal Kenneth Smith provided information from the school’s inquiry team. The team was tasked to review student performance and identify areas for improvement.

Smith said the high school has a 97 percent graduation rate and more than 70 percent of recent graduates are attending four- or two-year colleges. The high school offers 22 advanced placement classes, and students score highly on standardized tests.

The inquiry team identified room for improvement in the number of students who are failing one or more classes, as well as the number of students who do not graduate — which was 10 for the 2011-12 school year, as of the August graduation. The team developed areas offocusforthisyear,settingagoalofa3percentdecreasein freshmen who are failing classes and a 20 percent increase in graduation, or two more students who graduate, said Smith.

Intervention systems, including tutoring and credit recovery, are being developed to support at-risk students, he said.

In other action, the board approved the publication of a proposition to add nine new buses at a cost of $995,000. This is part of the district’s bus replacement cycle, said Richard Mancuso, business administrator for the district.

The proposition must be published in advance, although it could be withdrawn by the board at any time. It would be up for a vote at the same time as the budget but would not have an impact on the 2012-13 budget levels, he said.

The public continued to comment on the school budget process during the budget input and public participation portions of the meeting.

Jacob Brinkman said his opportunities in theater at Fredonia State College were made possible by his experiences in the Clarence district, which could be endangered by cuts.

Zachary Pace, a University at Buffalo sophomore who hopes to be an astrophysicist, said that while he’s not majoring in music, the Clarence music program made him the person he is today. He said he felt more prepared for college than 90 percent of his fellow college students. His Advanced Placement classes allowed him to be able to take graduate-level classes as a sophomore.

Roger Showalter, who has four children in the district, said he had neighbors who had to move because their taxes were too high. He said the town won’t keep growing if taxes keep rising.

Draft 3 of next year’s budget proposes an estimated $2.08 million in reductions, while Draft 2 would keep the increase at the tax levy limit, and require about $2.85 million in reductions.

Jim Murphy of the Rock Oak Homeowners Association said a budget that is higher than the tax cap would mean that a lot of people would have to leave the area. He said he hopes there will be a compromise.

Diane Showalter said the increased taxes would essentially go to higher wages, and she said she doesn’t think people will keep voting to approve the budget when many are not seeing an increase in their own incomes and have benefits that are inferior to those granted to the teachers.

Board President Michael Lex reiterated that Superintendent Geoffrey Hicks and the Clarence Teachers Association are currently involved in salary negotiations.

Not everyone in the town is well off, noted resident Jean Davis, and some may have to make choices that include a necessary prescription. She said a nonprofit foundation, something mentioned by the board in a previous meeting, would be good because it would allow for tax-deductible, voluntary contributions.

Several members of the audience said they wanted the opportunity to vote for Draft 2, while another man said he would knock on doors and hand out literature in an attempt to make sure that version of the budget didn’t pass.

Another budget session will be held at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, March 24, in the Clarence High School auditorium, 9625 Main St. The board will vote to adopt a budget at its next regular meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. Monday, April 16, in the high school lecture hall.

More details about each budget proposal are available at www.clarenceschools.org.

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