Roslyn schools eye curriculum upgrades in new budget

The Island Now
Karina Baez, the Roslyn school district's assistant superintendent for elementary education, speaks at a Roslyn school board meeting on Feb. 2, 2017. (Photo by Ted Ryan)

By Ted Ryan

The Roslyn school district plans to increase spending by about $2 million, or 2.64 percent, in the 2017-18 school year, district administrators said at a school board meeting Thursday night.

The $107.8 million proposed budget would increase spending on improvements in curriculum and instruction throughout all grades, including more emphasis on technology at the secondary level, district officials said.

The budget would increase the tax levy by about 0.64 percent, meaning homeowners would pay about $90 a year more in property taxes on average, said Barry Edelson, a district spokesman.

“This is probably the most exciting budget that I’ve ever been a part of,” Joseph Dragone, the assistant superintendent for business and administration, said. “I can’t tell you how happy I am that we’ve been able to put this together.”

Karina Baez, the assistant superintendent for elementary education, said there are some programs and initiatives administrators hope to “either be able to continue to develop into the new school year or will be able to introduce” under next year’s budget.

Elementary programs included in the proposal include curriculum writing; professional development for teachers; materials and supplies; a reading and writing program; response to intervention; new integrated social studies curriculum; GO Math, a digitally interactive math curriculum; and Next Generation Science Standards, a research-based curriculum.

The district also wants to introduce new early development classes, a fifth-grade robotics class, a class that incorporates virtual reality headsets, and a physical education class that incorporates wristbands to monitor students’ heart rates.

The increased spending would also allow for improvements at the secondary education level, administrators said.

The district wants to introduce 11 new classes into Roslyn’s middle and high schools, including those based on Next Generation Science Standards.

The district would also add computer coding courses for grades six through 12, classes incorporating virtual reality, app creation classes, engineering classes and a high school robotics club.

The assistant superintendent for secondary education, Michael Goldspiel, said Roslyn Middle School would receive 25 Dell laptops, 10 iPads and multiple engineering programs.

Other new middle school classes include an introduction to American Sign Language, Social Issues and Awareness, Exploring Myths and Facts of Science, and Facing Our Future.

Other new high school classes include a second level of Mandarin Chinese, a public speaking class based on TED Talks and experiential learning.

“With all of the improvements that Karina [Baez] and Michael [Goldspeil] mentioned, it’s only costing the taxpayers of this community an additional 0.64 percent,” Dragone said. “That to me is quite amazing.”

Other increased costs for the district include health insurance, debt service, special education and central services, totaling approximately $2.5 million dollars. All of these expenditures have risen since the previous year.

There are also some decreases in expenditures for the coming year, such as the district’s contributions to the state’s teacher pension fund, which dropped by about $500,000, as well as occupational education, legal services and tax anticipation notes.

The budget has not been finalized and may change throughout the school year, but Dragone said he will update the school board on any changes.

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