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Briarcliff Manor Students, Parents Fight Schedule Changes

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Generic School Photo (Credit: AP)

Generic School Photo (Credit: AP)

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BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A longer school day, fewer elective courses, and teacher layoffs are among proposed changes that have the town of Briarcliff Manor up in arms Thursday.

Parents and students are vowing to fight after being stirred up by a rousing school board meeting last week, reports CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis.

“I would have to sacrifice my elective to be able to keep a free period,” one student said.

“Please help me understand how the students are going to sing and play music while they are having lunch,” said a parent.

School officials are considering changing the high school’s class schedule in Briarcliff Manor – adding to the school day and trimming lunch, some free periods, art, music and language electives.

Officials have touted several advantages to the plan.

“That amounts to, I think, 100 extra hours of instructional time in core courses,” Board of Education member Guy Rotondo said.

“I think this schedule change is the right thing to do,” Principal James Kaishian said.

School activist Mike Valenti, however, highlighted the drawbacks and is organizing parents and students against the plan.

“The last time that we changed our high school schedule, we took several years,” Valenti said. “Here, we haven’t even taken several weeks.”

A Facebook campaign is calling for a peaceful demonstration on Monday, where students will “get off the bus, sit on the sidewalk, be silent and wear black.”

“Today we see one of the rare instances where the student body comes together and unites to fight for a cause we believe in,” one student said.

Briarcliff Manor schools were on break this week, but the few parents who showed up Thursday said the changes will not only limit classes, but will also eliminate teachers.

“Well, if you eliminate certain courses, certain programs, then you can let those teachers go,” former school board member Susan Bodansky said.

Bodansky said she doesn’t but the district’s claim that the changes aren’t about money.

“It’s always a cost issue,” she said.

Parents and students say they’ll fight at every board meeting, hoping to defeat a vote and save student electives.

The district’s interim superintendent and the high school are entrusted with making the final decision on the proposed changes. They plan to notify the community by the next board meeting, scheduled for March 7.

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