Julianne Glebus of Crown Point and Joe Gonyeau of Ticonderoga work on a physics experiment. Crown Point students are coming to Ti High each day to take the physics class.
Julianne Glebus can be seen in the halls at Ticonderoga High School this fall. That wouldn’t be unusual, except that Glebus is a Crown Point Central School student.
Glebus is one of six Crown Point students coming to Ti High daily to take a physics class — a class not available in Crown Point.
“Crown Point had some students interested in physics and asked about the possibility of them taking the class here,” John McDonald, Ti school superintendent, said. “We checked our enrollment and had space, so we agreed.
“It’s working out very well,” he continued. “It’s a good opportunity for these kids to get a class normally not available to them. We’re happy to provide it.”
Shari Brannock, Crown Point superintendent, appreciates Ticonderoga’s willingness to help her students.
“The state requires three sciences for graduation,” Brannock said. “Normally we offer earth science and biology and rotate between chemistry and physics. This year we had a large group that wanted to take forensics and we decided to offer that.
“That meant no physics, but we had some students who wanted the course,” she said. “We’re pleased they can get physics at Ticonderoga. It’s working out very well.”
The six Crown Point students join 16 Ti High students in the class and labs. McDonald said the Crown Point district will pay Ti for the class, but the amount is still being negotiated.
Paul Jebb, Ti High physics teacher, is pleased to have the Crown Point contingent in his class.
“Physics is a foundation science,” he said. “It’s important for students to have it. I’m pleased we can help.”
Jebb believes the combined class is motivating students.
“I think kids from both schools have picked up their game,” he said. “Everyone wants to look good in front the new kids.”
Mike Graney, Ti High principal, sees another advantage to the joint class.
“I’m pleased the Crown Point kids are getting physics and I think it’s a great opportunity socially,” Graney said. “It’s a chance for kids from both schools to get to know each other and talk about the way things are done in each school. I think there’s a lot of learning taking place besides physics.”
The Ticonderoga and Crown Point school districts agreed last spring to consider a possible merger. The two school boards have asked the Department of State for an application for grant money to conduct a study of the issue.
Some feel the shared class may be a first step toward a merger, but McDonald and Brannock insist that’s not the case.
“We haven’t even gotten the grant to do the study yet,” McDonald said. “If and when we do get the grant it’ll be at least a two-year process.”
Even after the study, no merger can take place with voter approval of both school districts.
It’s very possible the districts will not merge, McDonald said, but the study may lead to greater shared services that could save taxpayers in both districts money.
“The study will look at all kinds of consolidation of services, each tax base, state aid to each district, geography, programs, everything,” he said. “The study will give us an idea of what’s feasible. Anything we can do together that helps both districts will be looked at. We (Ti) could end up sending some students to Crown Point for a class there.
“How can we look at our taxpayers and say we didn’t pursue this?” McDonald asked.
“We have to find ways to remain responsible to taxpayers and meet student needs,” Brannock said. “We have to consider every possibility.”
McDonald and Brannock also pointed out the two school districts are sharing student transportation to Champlain Valley Tech in Mineville.
Beginning with the 2012-13 spending plan, school district budget increases will be capped at 2 percent. That cap means school administrators are looking at every possible savings.
Crown Point has 280 students, while enrollment is 900 at Ticonderoga.
Ticonderoga has a $18,997,947 budget in 2011-12. The district has struggled with its budget the past two years, with voters rejecting proposed spending plans twice.
Ticonderoga’s budget for 2011-12 includes reductions in textbooks, the district newsletter, library, internal auditing, computers, transportation, athletics, summer school, the annual Whale Watch trip and other items totalling $242,319.
The Ticonderoga Teachers Association agreed to forgo most of its contractual wage increases. Those concessions totalled $320,000. Teachers were to receive a 5.73 percent wage increase but agreed to waive 85 percent of their raises and skip step increases in their salaries. They also agreed to freeze extracurricular activity pay.
Those concessions, though, weren’t enough to prevent job loses. The elementary school principal position, an elementary reading teacher, a kindergarten teacher and a teaching assistant have been eliminated through attrition. Two teachers and a teaching assistant were eliminated by lay off. Three other teachers and a teaching assistant will become half-time positions.
District administrators agreed to a pay freeze.
Crown Point has a $6,084,266 budget in 2011-12.
The budget includes the elimination of 2.9 teaching positions and 3.6 non-instructional jobs. A teaching assistant was eliminated, while science and math positions became half time and Spanish and special education posts were reduced 20 percent. Also cut was a bus monitor, a bus driver, an account clerk and a maintenance position.
Those job cuts save the district $225,269.
The district will also save $34,488 this year and $70,000 next year because teachers agreed to a health insurance coverage change.