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Tarrytown Schools Seek More for High Achievers

SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. – A group of concerned parents want to make sure their high-achieving children are challenged in school, and Tarrytown school officials said that's an issue they want to carefully consider.

“My son tells me that he's bored,” Kristen Idalski told school board members during a recent meeting.

A subcommittee of the district's Community Task Force has been looking into opportunities for high-achieving students, co-chair Cathy Foti said. Foti spoke during the same meeting to encourage the school board to consider the issue.

“We support putting it on the board's goals for next year looking what can be done at WI to support higher-ability children and giving them all the opportunities to achieve their full potential,” Foti said.

School board President B. Joseph Lillis said many members of the board, including himself, had the same concerns. Lillis said the board will meet to discuss its goals for the 2012-13 school year in July and the issue will be considered.

Foti said she thought the issue partially stemmed from budgetary problems and focusing more on state tests. She said she supported the district's efforts to help below-average students achieve their potential, but was concerned that something wasn't happening at the higher levels.

Ken Torosian asked the district to move more quickly on the issue rather than it normally does because “this is a big concern within the district.”

Superintendent Howard Smith said the district recognized it has work to do in the area of differentiation, but added the more responsible course of action is to consider the issue thoroughly before changing anything. To do otherwise, he said, would be to “short-change the population at large.”

“If there were an easy solution to this we would have already done it,” he said.

Smith said the district has been studying the issue in math already. Although parents' concerns won't be addressed before the next school year, Smith said it's always a good idea for parents to talk with teachers about their concerns to see what can be done on an individual basis.

Idalski has two kids currently in the district. Like other parents who brought up their concerns, she said her son does not seem to be challenged enough in his Washington Irving Intermediate classes and she's not sure he's reaching his full potential.

“I feel as a core he deserves to have something challenging,” Idalski said.

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