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LP schools to bone up on core classes, slash others

Administrators from the Lake Placid Central School District last week announced some major curriculum changes slated to begin next semester.

Many of the expected changes, including more math and science requirements, are being driven by Albany.

State Education Commissioner Dr. David Steiner has emphasized the need to beef up student's math and science skills - words that echo President Barack Obama's insistence that math and science education is essential in helping the U.S. compete globally.

The school recently added another science teacher and plans to drop foreign language studies at the middle school.

All seven of the so-called Advanced Placement courses will be retained and additional bridge courses with North Country Community College are being considered.

School administrators say these changes will help boost the school's educational standards.

At the same time, elective science and math courses that give students an extra year to prepare for state regents exams are being scrapped.

But a few parents attending the meeting took exception to this proposal.

Patty Gallagher said one of the courses being cut, called Introduction to Geometry, allowed her daughter to pass the state regents exam.

"Teachers in this school developed these courses and they're working," Gallagher said. "That's why our [rankings] are so good."

Meanwhile, Introductory Algebra, Introductory Journalism and Living Environment courses would also be cut.

The focus on core subjects comes with other trade-offs; about half of the school's roughly 34 elective course options would be eliminated.

Superintendent Randy Richards pointed out that the district would still be offering twice as many electives as neighboring Saranac Lake, a district with far more students.

But Richards said non-core offerings would need to be slashed in order to keep the school on sound financial footing.

Richards also said he would work to reduce inefficiencies, noting that the school spends about $5,000 more per student than the state average for special education.

"Things are changing," Richards said. "We're dealing with increasing scarcity. As a result, we need to get more resourceful and more efficient really fast because we cannot sustain our long-term liabilities."

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