District: Clarksville combined class a non-issue

Bethlehem Superintendent Michael Tebbano recently addressed some concerns aired by a group of Clarksville parents about enrollment and class size at Clarksville Elementary School.

Tebbano said that not only does Bethlehem have a long tradition of multi-age classrooms he's a product of a multi-age education himself.

Multi-aged classrooms are not unique to Bethlehem and are not unique to Clarksville. I want to clear the air because there's a lot of misinformation out there," Tebbano said. "The main concern is that they're saying multi-age classes are a substandard form of education, and they couldn't be further from the truth. That notion is an insult to all of the people who have received a multi-age education."

The parents said they are dissatisfied with the low enrollment at Clarksville and the prospect of having multi-age classrooms indefinitely, and they are pointing to the new Eagle Elementary School as part of the reason.

Clarksville resident Martin Gordinier wrote a letter about the issue to The Spotlight, which was published Wednesday, June 10, and has submitted similar material on other area Web sites about the matter.

"Due to miscalculations in the enrollment estimates at Clarksville Elementary Tebbano and the School Board have recently suggested that the current kindergarten class be merged next year with the class above or below," Gordinier wrote, describing the group to be merged as the "lost children."

"So called mixed-age classes are surprisingly common in the Bethlehem Central School District and are fueled by budgetary concerns," Gordinier wrote. "What is unprecedented this time around is the highly probable plan that this group of students will be mixed-age for all of their elementary years."

Gordinier further contends that permanently merging kindergarten and first grade at Clarksville would leave the kids "discriminated against in terms of educational quality based on redistricting mishaps."

Tebbano fundamentally denies these notions, saying there was no "miscalculation," and "there is no truth that this class will stay together all through elementary school."

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