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Two dozen residents show up at Carthage Central forum

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WEST CARTHAGE — Carthage area residents still have some qualms about the district’s decisions.

A handful of people voiced disagreement with new learning standards, teachers’ pay and athletic programs, among other topics, at Carthage Central School District’s second public forum Wednesday.

About two dozen teachers, students and residents came to the forum.

“Why are all our teachers paid so highly paid?” Carthage resident David E. Moses asked. “I think it’s about time we start renegotiating some of these contracts.”

Mr. Moses also complained that the roof’s shape needs to be changed to reduce the number of times it has to be fixed, that narcotic-sniffing K-9 units should be brought in to fix the drug problem at the school and that the sports program should be reduced to baseball, basketball and football.

“As far as I’m concerned, all the rest of them are garbage,” he said after the meeting.

Superintendent Peter J. Turner said most people in the district would disagree about cutting the athletic budget and defended the teachers’ salaries.

“Teachers and all our employees are a part of a collective bargaining unit,” he said. “All of our salaries are comparable to other schools in our (Board of Cooperative Educational Services) region.”

Mr. Turner said the sheriff’s K-9 units already come to the school to do random searches.

Parent and former teacher Abigail L. Staab, West Carthage, had issues with the Common Core modules teachers had to use since last school year.

The Common Core is an initiative that aligns education standards throughout the country.

“How did the district come to the decision to adopt the modules for English language arts and math?” she asked. “My concern was that they were adopted before we knew what they looked like.”

Assistant Superintendent Andrea K. Miller disagreed that teachers and administrators did not know what the modules looked like before they agreed on them. However, she said, many teachers in the state agree that the curricula — and hence, the modules — given by the state are not coming out as quickly as they are supposed to.

“There are teachers that feel the same as you do, and parents as well,” Mrs. Miller said. “But this is the way our state is telling us to go.”

As a former West Carthage Elementary teacher, Mrs. Staab disagreed with new testing, which has been promoted as more rigorous. She said the old testing gave teachers insight about what topics should be taught better.

“The tests that we have today are very different than what we had before,” she said. “In no way can it be used to inform them for future instruction. Last year, our child refused the New York state testing, and I’ll support him doing the same this year.”

Mr. Turner said those who disagreed with the new learning standards should contact their local state legislators or send a letter to state Education Commissioner John B. King Jr., because it was an initiative the state took on.

Other topics discussed included looking into renouncing the nearly $10,000 School Board Association membership and increasing the information available on the district website.

Mr. Turner said he was pleased with how the forum went.

“I think it shows that people have a vested interest in us,” he said. “I’m pleased with the turnout.”

Board member Mary Louise Hunt reminded the audience that residents will always receive an answer if they email or talk to a board member about problems they have with the district.

“Communication works both ways,” she said.

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