Six first grade students at Peck Place School are not going on to second grade next year and members of the Orange Board of Education want to know why.
During a discussion about class sizes and predictions for the upcoming school year, Superintendent of Schools Lynn McMullin said that of the 58 children in first grade at Peck Place, six are going to be retained, or held back.
Eight kindergarten students will also be held back at Mary L. Tracy School. Four were expected to attend at Race Brook School and four at Peck Place.
"As a board, we are concerned with staffing and the budget, but also at issue is this significant number of retentions. Why? That's a lot of kids," said board chairperson Jeanne Consiglio.
Protocol requires teachers to let the school principal know by February 15 if there is a concern with a student's retention. By April 15, parents are told.
Board member Bill Kraut said, "Someone's not doing their job. I don't care about the budget, I care about the kids. I want to find out now what happened."
Fellow board member Bobby Ricciardi said the statistics were 'absolutely unacceptable.'
"I agree that the numbers are high," McMullin said. "We need to reexamine the reporting policy and take a good look at the situation."
The lack of students moving on meant smaller class sizes at both Peck Place and Race Brook and the possible layoff of two teachers. At last night's meeting, McMullin described a plan to keep at least one of the teachers on staff, but perhaps not in the position she or he currently occupies.
"It's a plan for the good of the district and can result in the savings of one of the positions," she explained. "I'd like to return the district to staff three math/science curriculum coordinators. The addition would need to be hired from the existing Orange staff." McMullin plans to advertise for the position soon.
Meanwhile, the board of education expects an answer to the question, 'How could so many students at one grade level be retained?' at the June board meeting.