GREENBURGH, N.Y. — The schools will soon improve academically despite being slowed financially by the new federally implemented Race to the Top initiative, Greenburgh Central 7 Superintendent Ronald Ross promised parents Wednesday.
The initiative forced New York public schools to formulate an Annual Professional Performance Review to receive their state aid — which ended up being a "bad deal," Ross told parents and Greenburgh 7 community members at an education forum in Greenburgh.
Although Greenburgh 7 was given $64,000 in aid to spend over four years, it will cost the district nearly $400,000 to implement the APPR teacher evaluations, he said.
"Every school district took this deal, and it was a bad deal," Ross said. "Race to the Top is a piece of garbage. It does not serve our children at all."
Greenburgh 7 isn't the only local school struggling with the new initiative. Elmsford School District released a statement from the Lower Westchester Education Consortium on its website that urges parents and community members to write to local and state representatives to "make their voices heard."
"The extreme financial impacts of APPR, Unfunded Mandates and the Tax Cap, in addition to increased security needs, will redirect our district resources that should otherwise be spent on curriculum and instruction," according to the statement.
Ross said he plans to turn things around over the next three years by focusing less on regents tests and by adding changes to the curriculum. A long-term plan is also in the works to consolidate Greenburgh's six schools onto one campus. That would shrink class sizes, which have been swelling to 24 students per class in some grades.
Greenburgh Board of Education President Lloyd Newland said the board and its Facility Committee are still discussing consolidation efforts. The district still needs to reach out to the community and state government to see if the funding the plan is viable, he said.
"We're very serious with this plan and starting to move ahead. The big problem is funding," Newland said. "It's going to take two to three years to get off the ground."
Parents also spoke up. Kristina Hendrickson, whose two daughters attend Greenburgh schools, is worried that the large class sizes won't allow her high-achieving children to get the attention they deserve.
"I wanted more details," Hendrickson said after the forum. "Why should I stay and wait? Who's going to fund these changes?"