NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – Rumored cuts to the New Rochelle schools health department, concern about the district’s class sizes and discontinued grant funding were topics focused on by residents Thursday during a 2013-14 school budget forum.
Several school nurses attended the forum to decry a rumor that health office personnel positions were on the chopping block. Robin Kaphan, lead nurse at Webster Elementary School, and Nora Wolloch, school nurse at Trinity Elementary School, both listed their job responsibilities -- ranging from the number of students they take care of on a daily basis, to administrative duties, such as forms and parent outreach. “The school nurse is always on the front lines,” said Wolloch.
One mother of two children at Trinity Elementary School said that cutting back on these jobs would likely add to the burden of school nurses who already have enough administrative duties in addition to caring for students. New Rochelle resident Adam Eagleburg made several recommendations to the board for the budget, including consolidation of department chairs and creating a line item review to keep track of costs and grant-funded programs.
Parent Wendy Benesh brought up the Student Assistance Program at New Rochelle, which has been funded through a federal Safe Schools Healthy Students grant since 2010. The program raises awareness of the dangers of drug use, alcohol consumption and other risky behaviors. The grant is set to expire at the end of the 2012-2013 school year. Prior to 2010, the program was a line item in the district budget for 31 years. Benesh urged the board to put the program back into the budget for the upcoming school year.
In addition to comments made at the forum schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak said the board wants feedback from the entire school community so the budget can reflect a larger number of district residents.
A survey is available on the district's website until Feb. 22. The survey asks questions on a range of issues, including pre-kindergarten classes, Advanced Placement and honors courses, foreign languages in elementary schools, extracurricular activities and technology.
The board will receive the budget at its March 5 meeting. School budget review sessions for community involvement will be held at New Rochelle High School at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 7, Tuesday, March 12 and Thursday, March 14.
A public hearing will be held Tuesday, May 7, at the high school. Residents will vote on the budget May 21. If residents have further questions or commentary on the 2013-14 school district budget, they can email firstname.lastname@example.org .