Three Village gets financial news, moves on social studies

Three Village gets financial news, moves on social studies

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An independent auditor has given Three Village School District a clean financial bill of health.

The pronouncement at a recent meeting came from Dave Spara, of Toski & Co., who said the district’s financial position is “sound” as a result of “prudent and judicious budgeting.”

In his report, Spara said that at the close of the last fiscal year, the district held $20 million in its fund balance — an amount he called “adequate” for a school district.

About $10 million of the fund balance is in reserves, which Spara said is “good, not overboard and not low.” He added that it complies with state regulations for the amount of money a district can hold in its fund balance — no more than 4 percent of the next year’s budget.

The district’s reserves are basically enough to get the district, which spends approximately $1 million a day, through a week, he said.

“That’s something that we’ve tried to do over the years,” said Jeff Carlson, assistant superintendent for business services. “Keep a modest amount that will cover us in the event of some emergency, but not too much.”

Last year, the district drew down $600,000 from its balance, not a large sum for a budget of a little more than $180 million, Spara said.

In other financial matters, Carlson clarified that $17,554 — stated in a previous district report as the amount spent per student —was a number generated by the state to express “instructional spending per pupil.” The figure does not include expenses in other areas, such as busing, construction or other projects, he said.

It would be more accurate, Carlson said, to divide the district’s total spending per year by its enrollment. Based on the current enrollment, the average spending per pupil would be closer to $29,000, he said.

Taking numbers from the 2014-15 school year for Long Island school districts, Carlson said the average spending per student was $26,402. Sixty of the 124 districts on the Island fall within 10 percent — either above or below — of the average. Forty-three districts are above the 10 percent average and 24 are below, he said.

Social Studies
In other news, Three Village also announced plans to forge ahead with an updated social studies curriculum in all grades.

Despite the attention on “testing subjects” — English language arts (ELA) and math — social studies is getting attention in Three Village, district officials said.

“This, right now, is the time for social studies,” said Paul Gold, social studies director for grades K-12, as he outlined some of the curriculum changes and upgrades.

At the elementary level, the third grade will now be exposed to the culture, religions and politics of China.

“We want to give students the same opportunities here that other students are getting around the world,” Gold said.

Fifth grade students will focus on the Western Hemisphere, Latin American studies and North America, while doing comparative analysis.

At the junior high level, Gold said, social studies teachers will work toward more differentiation between the Regents level and honors level social studies classes, so that honors courses are “more rigorous.”

The current eight graders will be the first to take the new global history and geography Regents exams in 10th and 11th grades.

AP U.S. and World History curricula and exams will also be undergoing change.

“We are way ahead of the curve state-wide for getting kids and teachers so prepared for what’s to come,” Gold said.