Mothers Push for Return of Honors Pre-Calc Class

11 students may miss out on class this fall because 15 need to be enrolled

At the end of the school year, two families learned that their daughters would not be able to being a two-year mathematics track for their junior and senior year all because the class was four students shy of the needed enrollment number.

Last night, Lori Winters of Oradell and Christine Smith of River Edge urged the River Dell Board of Education to reconsider offering Honors Pre-Calc BC (taught by Kear Halstater) in the fall.

"I'm concerned that the math class was eliminated," Winters said. "It is one of the higher math classes offered. Instead they are offering Pre-Calc AB, and while the courses are similar in nature, one is for students with a grade of 78 or above and the other is for those with an 88 or above. You have students that have worked very hard and now a challenge is being taken away from them."

According to Halstater's course syllabus on the River Dell website, Honors PreCalc AB will "provide a review of functions, including polynomial, rational, exponential, logarithmic, composite and trigonometric functions."

In the course students develop the ability to analyze and solve functional equations while also focusing on a multi-representational perspective of mathematics, creating a knowledge and conceptual base for studying calculus. It includes advanced pre-calculus topics, such as the concepts of parametric equations, complex numbers, polar coordinates as well as decomposition of fractions.

Honors PreCalculus AB, taught by William Kleinfelder focuses on providing a deeper, analytical study of functions, including polynomial, rational, algebraic, exponential, logarithmic, and trigonometric functions.

The main difference between the two courses is that PreCalc BC is meant as an advanced class for students who would later take Honors Calculus with John Sincak or AP Calculus with Halstater.

"Eleven students qualified for this class and a few others missed out by a point or so and the goal was to have 15 in the class," Smith said. "I encourage the board to give these kids that excel something. It is not satisfactory that if they wanted to apply to Georgetown or another good school to not have a high level math for two years."

According to Superintendent Patrick Fletcher, the reason why the class was not offered for the 2011-12 school year is because the district needed to hire additional staff that took away resources.

"In fairness, this school year that just finished we did not offer PreCalc BC because there was not enough students to fill the class," Fletcher said. "There are issues and problems when we have small groups of students and we don't have enough to be able to offer a class."

Board member Dorothea Durand requested that Fletcher and Director of Mathematics Jennifer Ali put together three to four proposals prior to the next meeting on how to accomplish meeting the needs of those students along with a cost analysis.

The River Dell Board of Education will next meet on July 25 where Fletcher will present a few options on how to best serve the needs of the 11 affected students.


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