The Boothbay-Boothbay Harbor CSD School Committee unanimously approved a $10,407,503.30 fiscal year 2019-20 budget April 24. For Boothbay Region Elementary School, the committee saved $100,000 by cutting the building-wide educational technician and replacing the consumer science and arts teacher with an ed tech.
After testimony from school staff and the public on the need to keep a twice weekly physical education program at BRES, the committee kept it. The committee also unanimously approved the adult education budget of $59,122.69.
Chair Larry Colcord reminded the audience, whenever a staff member retires, the committee has always looked at whether or not the job needs to stay. Boothbay Region High School teacher Mark Gorey, BRES ed tech Judy Coady and Pre-K teacher Kate Rice were among those who strongly suggested keeping the physical education job.
“Cutting back two times a week for physical activity to one is not in my judgment in the best interest of the children,” said Gorey. “This is a penny-wise-pound-foolish policy if you decide tonight to cut that position.”
Parent and recreation aquatics specialist Mary Baudo said working frequently with people 50 and older, she has learned that beyond their youth, most have never gravitated toward exercise.
“Many of them … have heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, back problems, knee problems, hip problems, etc. Many of you are in that age group and know what I'm talking about,” Baudo said. “If wellness is not learned in childhood, sometimes it is never learned …”
BRES physical education teacher Lauren Brown noted the job Tim Rice is leaving is one of very few in the CSD that involve credentials to teach health education and the only one among the physical education teaching jobs at BRES.
“I hope that people understand that physical activity is very different than physical education … It's not just getting the wiggles out …” said Brown.
BRHS science teacher Sherrie Hersom, who has health teaching credentials, said biology, chemistry and physics teachers are not only teaching regular level students, but are offering honors level in those areas. She said it is basically teaching two classes.
Member Peggy Splaine asked the principals what eliminating the physical education job would look like and if students would be losing out. BRHS Principal Dan Welch said he and BRES Principal Mark Tess would have to work out a schedule which would bring BRHS teacher Dennis Dacus into BRES. In turn, Hersom would have to pick up two health courses in the high school and someone else would have to pick up the biology courses she would be forced to drop; so electives would likely be lost.
Tess said there is not enough to the health program, as it is. “… That's embarrassing for me. At the end of the day, could we do something? Yes, but our kids are not going to be getting the same level of activity that they currently have."
Said BRES Assistant Principal Tricia Campbell, “As Mark said, we can do less, but that's what we would be doing ... less for our kids who deserve more.”
The committee kept the physical education job in the budget with the understanding that administrators will try to find a way to fill responsibilities with current positions before advertising to fill it.
With Tess’s and Campbell's support to try to find a way to function without a building-wide ed tech, the committee decided to eliminate that job and revisit the matter in a year.