Board OKs changeto gifted classes

Now, all first-graders will receive

one hour per month of "enriched instruction"
By:Krzysztof Scibiorski
   The board voted May 20 to eliminate the gifted and talented program’s first and second grade separate classes, much to the dismay of some parents who say they will appeal for a formal county review of the proposal.
   Over the last two months, a group of parents has brought in outside experts and criticize the district’s plans for the Reach Explore Academic and Creative Heights (REACH) program for gifted and talented students.
   Currently, students identified as being higher achievers are taken from their regular classes and given special instruction separately for approximately 10 percent of their time at school.
   According to the former REACH coordinator, Dennis Copeland, there are currently six first-grade students and 36 second-grade students enrolled in the program. While the district wants to end the special instruction for first-graders, the pull-out program for the second-graders would be continued until the 2003-04 school year, when it also would be replaced with the enrichment program.
   The parents have alleged that the program will be in violation of a 1999 state code which requires gifted and talented students to be identified and provided special instruction beginning in kindergarten.
   Virginia Gittelman, the district’s assistant superintendent of schools, told the board that she had discussed the proposed program with both the county school superintendent David Livingston and with Beverly Hetrick, the county curriculum coordinator who felt that the program appeared to be in compliance with state laws. Dr. Gittelman did acknowledge that the proposed curriculum had not been viewed by either of the two county officials.
   Board member Christopher Pulsifer was the only dissenter in the vote 7-1 vote in favor of approving the district’s plan.
   "Nobody’s sat down and told us that we’re in compliance. Nobody has reviewed our curriculum," Mr. Pulsifer said. "The state will not care whether we find it difficult to identify gifted kids at a young age, they just tell us to do it."
   "I’m highly disappointed by the decision. We’re going to ask the county to formally evaluate the program very soon," said Mike Auerbach, the president of the Gifted and Talented Home and School Association. "Fundamentally, the question is how will the enriched curriculum for 8 hours in a 1,000 hour school year meet the needs of any child."