AP, Honors Classes Critical to New Rochelle Schools

Survey results will be used to shape New Rochelle School District budget discussions.

Advanced placement and honors classes are critical issues when it comes to the school budget.

That was one of the results of the New Rochelle School District budget survey released Wednesday.

Over 300 people completed the survey, down significantly from last year, according to district spokesman Paul Costiglio.

More than 61 percent of those taking the survey felt that preserving advanced placement and honors classes is essential to the district's mission.

In rating programs or parts of the educational system, people were asked to choose from 1) Essential and critical, 2) Very important, 3) Good to have, but not essential and 4) Not important enough to preserve in a time of fiscal constraint.

Regarding class size, 60.6 percent of responses said it was most important. Having up-to-date technology was most critical to 45.7 percent of responses.

Of the 300 people who completed the survey, almost 75 percent were parents or guardians of a school-age student and over 20 percent were community members who did not have a child in the schools.

Parents of elementary school children were heavily represented in the survey, with 69.2 percent indentifying themselves as such.

The school district will use the data gathered from the survey in upcoming 2013-14 budget discussions.

"We are delighted that once again so many members of the New Rochelle community took the time to fill out the survey," said Board President Chrisanne Petrone in a prepared statement. "The Board takes this feedback very seriously and looks forward to being further engaged with the community in the school budget process as our work on the 2013-14 school budget moves forward."

Live broadcasts and Web casts of the school budget review sessions will take place at 7 p.m. March 7, 12 and 14. The sessions will be held in library of the New Rochelle High School. They can be seen on Cablevision Channel 77, Verizon FIOS Channel 30 and the district's Web site.

linda strong February 28, 2013 at 11:54 AM
I am a parent of a child who lives in New Rochelle but who has been fortunate enough to attend a private prep school for high school...yes AP and honors classes are essential to msking this a competitive distr ict in which to live and buy a house. If these progrsms are cut, people will look elsewhere to live. NEW ROCHELLE has a lot to offer at this time
Vicki Lesser February 28, 2013 at 01:23 PM
Yes, the AP and Honors classes are critical to offer, however, the workload and expectations of the students in these classes is insane relative to other schools in the county. Not sure if this is to compensate for lower-performing students, or for the school's reputation, or what, but the resulting stress, pressure and sleep-deprivation imposed on our highest performing students is burning them out and that is ultimately a problem.
Bruce Gold February 28, 2013 at 01:57 PM
Good observations. Who is really being served by loading up the curriculum with so many AP and Honors classes that the quality of student in regular classes suffers? Further, many AP/Honors students end of needing extra help (at taxpayer expense) or personal tutoring (at family expense). The classes should be available, but they should not need to be created at such personal and family cost. The end result of greater discernment could be an overall better balance of students in all classes, with AP and Honors being truly for those who excel in a subject.
Mike February 28, 2013 at 02:13 PM
In today's ultra competitive world, student burn out is unavoidable. Very few students are so bright that excelling in AP and honors courses is nearly effortless for them. I would love for my children to get more sleep, but that’s not the world in which we live. All serious H.S. students hope to gain admission to a top college. College admission officers don’t see how sleep deprived or stressed out applicants are; only what they have accomplished or strived towards. The stress and lack of sleep are real problems, but I see no alternatives other than to ease off and accept mediocrity. Given the choice, it seems most students would prefer to be stressed and tired than mediocre.
Vicki Lesser February 28, 2013 at 03:46 PM
Ironically, better academic performance is linked more to a good night's sleep than to homework. Lessening the workload, IMO, would not result in mediocrity, it would result in happier, more well-rounded and well-adjusted bright young people with more to offer this world. And probably fewer suicides, as well.
Michael Woyton (Editor) February 28, 2013 at 04:44 PM
At the budget discussions, there is always talk about how cutting back on AP courses and extracurricular activities will impact a student's chances of getting into a good college. Is there a disconnect between what the colleges expect and, because of budgetary constraints, what public schools can offer?
Bruce Gold February 28, 2013 at 05:31 PM
Good question. Public schools can and should provide these opportunities for their students. These offerings create value for the student, first and foremost, and have the halo effect on the reputation of the school district. My issue with our school system is that in our effort to provide AP and Honors classes, we are pushing so many students into the classes that the average student in a challenging AP or Honors class needs considerable extra help. Should AP History kids be going for extra help on a Saturday morning? Or should the standard for AP be high so that the best and brightest are in these classes? If the latter choice is pursued, then more quality students will be taking non-AP/Honors classes and elevating the level of performance of all classes.
Martin Sanchez February 28, 2013 at 07:09 PM
Providing so many AP/Honors classes is admirable, but my issue is that many are so intent in having more AP's etc that we overlook that the great majority of students are left to muddle through our inept "small learning communities, which are no different than reservations". Like the Eagles song goes "you can always check in, but you could never check out". Another fact, and you can ask the district, is that Isaac Young usually contributes only 15% to 20% of the AP/Honors students to the HS. Why not not devote resources to Isaac so that there is an even playing field.
Bruce Gold February 28, 2013 at 07:14 PM
Thanks for these comments. Reminiscent of the film "Race to Nowhere" which should be seen by families with high school aged students, or any age for that matter.
Bruce Gold February 28, 2013 at 07:15 PM
Melanie McKay February 28, 2013 at 10:36 PM
As a parent who has an extremely smart son in the high school, I would like to see them keep the AP and Honors classes. My son graduated from Albert Leonard in 2012, with the 2nd highest GPA, taking accelerated courses. He is now a 9th grader taking Honors Chemistry and Honors Geometry. He was tested recently for placement of the AP Social Studies for 10th grade. Kids in my son's position should have the honor of taking those classes.
Vicki Lesser March 02, 2013 at 06:00 AM
Impressive. My son is on that track, as well. But what is the rush? Why does the high school need to offer AP Physics to tenth graders? It is obvious that most aren't ready for it, yet feel compelled to take the course if invited in order to stay with their friends who are also on that track--and to feel they are giving themselves the best odds of getting into a good college. And we parents encourage them for fear that the average or even the honors classes will be inferior. Once again, most other schools in the county 1) Don't even offer AP Physics to sophomores, and 2) Limit the number of AP classes that students are allowed to take. The amount of material being taught this year in AP Physics is so daunting that it is being turned into a two year course next year.
Vicki Lesser March 02, 2013 at 06:27 AM
Bruce, I agree with you. I have seen Race to Nowhere, and I agree that every parent should have to see it. They owe it to their children. I also think it is sad that the goal of a high school education seems to have come down to competition to get into the best college so one can get the best job...and ultimately the most money. And that's high schools everywhere, not just New Rochelle. Much as I see and appreciate the benefits of tracking, it appears to be starting sooner and sooner to the detriment of a majority of students who may simply mature at a different rate or have different learning styles. It is also unfair that kids nowadays feel they must excel at everything-and for that I blame what's happened with college admissions.
Bruce Gold March 02, 2013 at 02:47 PM
Mediocrity is not the next step down for learning quality if AP and Honors classes are restricted to those who are capable of handling these classes. The next step down would be higher quality general population classes containing a broader mix of our great students. They, our community and our school system would be far better served than maintaining the status quo.
Bruce Gold March 02, 2013 at 02:48 PM
I agree 100%.
Bruce Gold March 03, 2013 at 02:46 PM
I guess that's the end of the discussion of this subject. I truly wonder what the school system administration thinks about the subject. My guess, it doesn't matter to them, in truth. They have an endless supply of funds (600%+ increase in school tax rate since we moved into New Rochelle in 1988) and are powerless in the face of the teacher's union (plenty of unqualified teachers standing up in front of the classroom in these honors and AP classes in addition to the well-qualified, excellent teachers).
Vicki Lesser March 03, 2013 at 03:10 PM
Start coming to the BOE meetings. I'm part of a small group that has finally started to demand greater transparency and accountability from this district. Four principals have just retired. Change is afoot. But it will happen faster if more in the community speak out and get involved.
Bruce Gold March 03, 2013 at 03:15 PM
Thanks. I'll keep an eye out for the schedule.
Vicki Lesser March 03, 2013 at 03:18 PM


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