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Football funds found, test scores pose quandary

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KINDERHOOK — The football committee handed over a check to the school board this week to pay for the team for the 2011-2012 school year. Also at the Tuesday, August 16 meeting, the board reviewed test scores in the lower grades.

The committee needed to raise $14,000 in a month to meet the full $31,000 cost of the football program. The annual district budget does not include any support for the program and since it was started several years ago, it has been privately funded. Members of the committee who were at the meeting said they raised the money through coin drops at the Kinderhook Farmers Market. The group also sold season tickets to home games and called local businesses for donations.

“We are relieved the funding for the football has been raised,” said Trisha Gerkman, a member of the committee. Now the group has to raise $34,000 by next April for the 2012-13 program. Donations can be made on the group’s Facebook page at Ichabod Crane Football.

On the issue of students’ scores on statewide English and math exams given in May in grades 3 through 5, Interim Superintendent Lee Bordick reminded the board that state Education Department changed the standards after the tests were taken. As a result students’ scores dropped statewide.

When originally graded, 90% of Ichabod Crane students scored at the proficiency level or above. But after the new scoring by the state, the number went down to 60%. “They didn’t get dumber and our teachers didn’t stop teaching,” said Mr. Bordick, attributing the change to the change in scoring.

The scores were also broken into subgroups by the gender, race and special education needs of the students. Because Ichabod Crane’s special education students did not met the new state standards, the district may get labeled as a school in need of improvement even though the district’s overall scores where the best in the county.

Mr. Bordick worried that since the state plans to tie teachers’ assessments to student performance on the standardized tests, teachers might be unwilling to take on more challenging students.

“If your pay and tenure depends on how those kids would achieve, who would want to do that?” said Board member Anthony Welcome.

The Education Department says the new scoring better predicts how an elementary school student will do on his or her high school Regents exams and whether the student will be proficient enough to get into college. “Our kids are getting accepted to very good schools,” said Mr. Bordick. He also stressed that this testing “defines human potential in a very narrow band.”

The superintendent stressed that the new scoring and teacher evaluations based in part on test scores would change the education system in this state, as will the adoption of a 2% cap on property tax increases.

This year the board approved raising $20 million of the $34-million budget through taxes. The district received about $13 million in state aid. Board member Regina Rose pointed out how much money the district depends on from the state and said that while this year the tax levy increased 3.86% over the previous year, next year the increase will be limited by the property tax cap.

“We need to continue to talk to the community,” said Mr. Bordick of the issues. Right now the district has to focus on opening of school September 6.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email eteasdale@columbiapaper.com.

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