SCARSDALE, N.Y. – The Edgemont Board of Education left no doubt Tuesday night that it considers the school district's special education department and its leader, Shelley Fleischmann, special.
Verbal bouquets were tossed following the director of special services' budget presentation at the board meeting. After board members David Chao, David Stern, Anish Nanvaty and Lisa Wexler prefaced questions with praise for Fleischmann's performance, Michaelin Curtis said, "At the risk of swelling your head, you've really impressed the board very much in the little more than a year you've been with us. You and your team really inspire confidence when you send a recommendation to us that you are doing the best thing for Edgemont kids."
Board member Thomas McCormack continued the love fest, and board President Gerald Stoughton said Fleischmann seems to find reductions in costs "but with the focus always on the students."
Fleischmann answered questions from the board and people attending the meeting after presenting her proposed $2,387,704 budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year, down from $2,700,046 budget this year. She attributed the cut to projections that show a slight drop in the number of students requiring special services. The figures, she said, do not include instructional salary codes or district-wide teacher aides in either budget.
Stoughton took a swipe at state government requirements, saying the district is forced to spend more money than necessary to deliver quality services, and he accused state leaders of turning a deaf ear to local districts on the issue.
"If it weren't for state mandates," he said, "these services could still be provided in a way that would meet the needs of the students, and still cost us less."
Superintendent Nancy Taddiken said the board would be asked to approve the special education budget at the board's next regular meeting, Feb. 14.
Among other actions at the meeting, the board approved the district's five-year capital facilities plan, but noted the approval was for the plan only, not for the expenditures. Those will be voted on separately if and when they are included in the budget. The board accepted the resignation of teaching assistant Rachel Kupersmith, who has taken a full teaching position in another district, and it accepted a gift of $5,075 from the Edgemont PTSA for the Konan exchange program and eChalk access fees