The Springville-Griffith School Board this week defeated a proposed resolution that would have affirmed the board’s objection to “high stakes testing,” because of the potential harm it imposes to the educational process.
Proposed by board member Kara M. Kane, the statement drew philosophical support from board members Joan M. Kelly and Delia G. Bonenberger, both proponents of a growing movement to curtail the scope and usage of the tests. However, each felt that the wording, which Kane hoped to forward to the state Education Department after Tuesday’s board meeting, had drawbacks.
“I don’t want to attack people, but issues. I think the statement should be powerful and not emotional,” Kelly said, noting that she would have liked an attachment with research backing up the resolution’s claims.
Bonenberger thought the language was too global, while board member Janine M. Caimano continued to voice support for the resolution despite the wording. Aside from Kane, she cast the only approving vote.
Kane asked the board to approve a statement titled “The Unmitigated Harm Caused by High Stakes Testing.”
She said she drew up the resolution after hearing from residents about the increased pressure standardized tests place on teachers, resources and students, and asked board members to formally oppose the “whims” of the state Education Department.
The measure failed by a 5-2 tally.
School Board President Mel Williams noted that the proposal generated interest from other boards, but fellow board member Jon S. Einarsson was unmoved. “I will support almost none of this,” he said. “I’m a solution-based guy. This offers no solution. Our job is to prepare kids. Taking tests is part of life.”
Einarsson said that he had asked his children about the tests and that they responded that they were “no big deal.”
Superintendent Paul M. Connelly weighed in briefly, saying that any resolution should clearly define “high stakes” testing.
In other matters, the board heard from Louann Laurito-Bahgat, external auditor for the district. Despite a favorable audit opinion, Laurito-Bahgat said the district had a $1.3 million operating loss in 2011-12, which was several million dollars better than anticipated. She commended the board for adding $350,000 to reserve accounts and keeping the fund balanced within the required 4 percent.
She noted that the cafeteria ended the year in the red for the first time due, in part, to $20,000 in kitchen equipment purchases. Business Administrator Ted Welch said the trend may continue as other major equipment needs arise for the district’s aging kitchens. He said lower participation in the school lunch program was also squeezing profits.