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Huntington School Budget Could Cost 100 Jobs

Some state aid restored, bringing tax rise to 3.3 percent.

About 100 employees stand to lose their jobs under the budget prepared Monday night by the Huntington Board of Education.

Though the district will get back about $544,000 in aid originally chopped out of the New York State budget, the reinstated money will mostly flow to trimming the tax increase. Instead of an increase of 3.5 percent, which the board had settled on previously, the board estimated rates would rise 3.3 percent, though board and administrators left the meeting prepared to check their numbers. 

Assistant superintendent David Grackin said  that simply putting the reinstated funds back into the budget would have put the tax rate increase back to 2.9 percent. And board president Bill Dwyer proposed sticking to that number, but others on the board objected. Vice president John Paci suggested that the board accept a 3.25 increase, but after much discussion of various scenarios, and the restoration of some spending, the board arrived at the 3.3 percent. The proposed budget is $108.7 million.

While glad to have the money restored, Dwyer said, "“It’s a decrease in the cut—they took away less."  The district stood to lose $1.75 million in state aid before restoration of some funds.

In the process of finding the most palatable plan, board and administrators dug through pages of numbers and recalculated costs before agreeing to limit spending on most new equipment, including smart boards and other technical equipment.  Members returned several times to the theme that cuts were painful for all and that no one was happy with the state of the budget.

Board member Emily Rogan said, "This budget is making me a little sick. I'm  having a tough time wrapping my brain around this. What happens early on really does set the foundation for everything. I cannt support these kinds of drastic cuts."

But though the program known as Saturday Academy was reinstated under the plan, and money was moved about from one budget line to another as various scenarios were tested, full-day kindergarten seemed gone for the coming year.

Administrators put the cost of a full-day program at $1 million. Many who attended the meeting pleaded once again to save the full-day program.

Others insisted on cuts in transportation, administration or equipment purchases while others spoke of their opposition to higher taxes or willingness to pay more to support their favored programs.

Several praised their children's teachers.  One mother said of her daughter's teacher, “If I could pay her salary myself, I would. I would gladly pay more taxes if you would reinstate full day kindergarten."

A father said he would vote for the budget no matter the cost. "I vote every year; I’m going to vote for the budget. I get it. Go 4 percent or 5 percent. Put it forward….Just put it out there," to applause.

But others objected, saying they could not afford the increases or insisted that the board find other savings in the budget to keep taxes low.

Dr. Joseph Giani, assistant superintendent for personnel, said the layoffs would mean  a savings of $7.8 million, with cuts falling heavily on support staff.

The Cuts:

  • Elementary instructional: 35.1 total (13 classroom teachers and 22.1 other elementary teachers).
  • Secondary staff: 9 total (Finley 5.8, high school 3.2).
  • Non instruction staff: 58.5 total.

Giani also showed figures indicating Huntington is busing far more students than required by state law. Under state minimums, Huntington would have to provide busing for 1,656 students; in fact, the district provides busing for 4,465 students.

Jerry Hannon April 07, 2011 at 03:55 PM
For JSC, who wrote: "Not every administrator is "fat" that can be cut. I would dare say that none of you have ever seen a job description for all the administrators in your district. Over the last few years, many of them have been asked to do a lot more, sometimes taking over the responsibilities that other admins used to have - before they were cut." This is absolutely the case in Elwood where we cut two assistant principal jobs, as well as the director of transportation, in the 2010/11 year. The director of technology now also handles transportation, and the director of athletics had his office moved to the high school to supplement -- with his visible presence in the halls --the now-single assistant principal there. We also replaced in 2010/11 a full-time assistant superintendent for human resources with a part-time position, for half the cost, and doing the full job quite nicely, thank you. We also -- two years ago -- replaced a full-time assistant superintendent for curriculum with a part-time person (who actually puts in hours closer to a full time job), and by getting someone with much greater skills, not only reduced the cost, but improved the performance of that position. All of this was due to bringing in a superior superintendent (who puts in hours far beyond what his position theoretically requires) whose experience in several other districts, two of them as superintendent, has enabled him to take measures such as those I have described.
Jerry Hannon April 07, 2011 at 04:17 PM
This is really heading into "loony land." Somebody needs to stop watching the Fox Propaganda Network, or worse, and learn to differentiate positions on the basis of facts, and not aspersions. However, if you want to claim that Jesus was (and is) a Socialist, then I guess you might be fair in that particular name-calling, since human rights and the dignity of workers is a very Christian message, and it has a history in Judaism as well. But, to throw in Communists, and Anarchists, well, I'm waiting for the discussion to turn to Romulans next. Don't confuse the selfishness and greed of union leaders, and some (but by no means, all) members, with extremist social and political ambitions; greed also exists on Wall Street, as we learned, and it is found in much of corporate America. It's up to management, in this case boards of education and district administrations, to resist union efforts to reinforce greed in future contracts. But, we need radical changes in Albany for that to be enabled, since the State ties the hands of school districts in terms of personnel management; we also need relief from other State-imposed costs, through unfunded mandates and pension structures. Lets keep the extremist political agendas out of this discussion, and let's keep it focused upon the true problems.
Art D - CSA April 07, 2011 at 05:52 PM
Hay Jerry or should I call you Mr. Reid. Sometimes cool aid is refreshing during a hot summer day, sometimes it puts blinders on. Here is a bone, now do your own research: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wF6A5ct69Xk&playnext=1&list=PLBCE3AD79ACC6F170 PS: The "fist" ? I wonder who uses the fist? First off Kim, the CSA does not endorse anyone. Because someone was a teacher or a Union member does not make them a bad person, not at all. I don't like your assertion that Teachers & Union members are bad. My family has both Teachers & Union members in them. You can take that kind of Hatred somewhere else.
Art D - CSA April 07, 2011 at 06:28 PM
Kim, the CSA does not endorse, we have candidate screenings where everyone is welcome ( open to the public ). The candidates will give a short 10 to 20 minute speech on why they should get elected and then they are questioned by the members of the audience. At the end the members of the audience will use evaluation sheets and rate each candidate. The CSA will than tabulate the results and provide them to each candidate as a rating number, at which time they can use the result anyway they chose. The CSA is full of individuals who think for themselves, and therefor don't all agree on the same person to help. That is why you will find many members helping different candidates. We are not Sheep, we are all leaders and everyone's opinion counts.
Jerry Hannon April 07, 2011 at 06:39 PM
For Art D, who wrote: "Hay Jerry or should I call you Mr. Reid. Actually, Mr. D, as a life-long Republican (as was my father and my grandfather), you should simply call me a Centrist Republican Vietnam Veteran Military Retiree Non-Union Member Bank Retiree, or, for the short form, Mr. Hannon. I simply don't have my head stuck in the clouds, or in the mud, or up any orifice.

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