Chatham ponders help for youngest students, more subjects for oldest

CHATHAM–The Chatham school board discussed technology and transportation plans in the draft budget for the 2018-19 school year last week. The majority of this part of the budget involves maintaining software and materials costs for the Technology Department, and the purchase of three buses for the Transportation Department.

In the previous board meeting February 27 multiple presentations were given by faculty throughout the district on programs they hoped to include in this next year’s budget. One of these programs would work with children transitioning from preschool to kindergarten, and from kindergarten to first grade to ensure they are ready to move on to the next level.

At that meeting elementary school principal Kristen Reno said many incoming kindergartners have no school experience yet and struggle with the transition, having never been exposed to “school culture.” The proposal to address this calls for a two-week transitional program during the summer for children entering kindergarten, which focuses largely on learning skills such as peer relationships, raising hands, getting to know school routines, and even occupational therapy skills like how to hold a pencil correctly.

In that same meeting there was mention of adding two new courses to the high school, one in computer science from Siena College and one in economics from Syracuse University. Additionally, the board hopes to add high school college-bound math for students who have completed algebra, but feel unready to continue on to geometry. In the middle school, the district hopes to add an automation and robotics curriculum to enable students to get involved earlier in robotics, having already established a well-run program for the high school.

The school board will continue to discuss the budget at their board meetings over the next few weeks, with adoption of the 2018-19 budget set for the April 17 meeting. On May 15 school district voters will vote on whether to approve the annual budget and will vote as well on the proposed Capital Project and members of the Board of Education.

“Our Capital Project passage rate is not as good as that of the budget,” board member Dave O’Connor said at the March 13 board meeting, adding, “and we have not previously voted on them in conjunction.”

More information on the upcoming budget is available on the school website, chathamcentralschools.com.

The next board meeting will take place on March 27 in the high school library at 6 p.m.

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