At Thursday’s Wallkill Central School District Board of Education meeting, Superintendent of Schools Kevin Castle announced that $69,000 is currently being proposed in the governor’s budget to be used towards areas such as mental health services and after school programs.
The District would like to use this money to add a social worker. This would allow Plattekill and Leptondale Elementary Schools to each have a full-time social worker.
In addition, the board also proposed adding American Sign Language (ASL) as an alternative foreign language option to eighth grade students who are currently only offered Spanish. This would be accomplished by either adding a certified ASL teacher or through an Orange-Ulster BOCES online program.
“We’ve heard over the years that our kids are asking for a second foreign language…,” Castle said. “Maggie [John G. Borden Middle School Principal Marjorie Anderson] has been doing an unbelievable job surveying her kids in seventh grade to identify what the interest is and right now we’re looking at American Sign Language... Her return is that 79 students are interested.”
The District also ran an ASL pilot program this past summer for grades five and six that was well-attended. The elementary schools have held after school programs for grades five and six this past fall which also received large turnouts.
Furthermore, Castle added that the district is keeping all programs, as they have greatly benefitted the student body.
“Over the last several years, we’ve done some great things in regards to adding programs for kids to prepare them outside our high school and beyond,” he said. “That in itself is a positive. All programs are staying put, we are not reducing anything.”
Good news for elementary school students was also announced at the Board of Education meeting on Thursday. Castle indicated that all elementary school class sizes would be kept the same for the 2020-2021 school year. The Board of Education also hopes to add a fourth week to their elementary school summer program, which is currently in the working budget. The Board will meet to further discuss these goals over the next couple of months.
The District will submit a Tax Levy to be within the cap to the State by March 1 that currently reflects a 2.54 percent increase. This is the ninth year that the District has been at or below the Tax Levy limit.
“We’re excited, we’re in a good spot,” Castle said. “Even with the governor’s numbers we’re in a pretty good spot.”