The Sewanhaka Central High School District School Board adopted the 2014-15 proposed budget last week. The proposed budget total for the 2014-15 school year is $175.3 million, a budget increase of $3.52 million from last year. The tax levy increase is set at 2.1 percent. The budget vote will take place on May 20.
The current projection for state aid in 2014-15 is $29.2 million in the state legislative budget, a slight increase from last year ($27.8 million).
“There was a budget-to-budget state aid increase of 5.2 percent,” District Superintendent Dr. Ralph Ferrie said.
In order to remain within the tax levy limit, the school district had to make a $2.9 million reduction, which meant cuts to school staff, including 13 teachers, one assistant principal and 12 teaching assistants.
The reduction of teachers due to retirement, attrition and other factors totaled $1.17 million. The lost assistant principal, salary, benefits, teacher retirements and FICA totaled $215,376. Cutting teaching assistants totaled $611,095 and a reduction in two clerical positions added up to $59,314.
“It is disheartening to think that in the next couple of weeks I’ll be sitting with some of our teachers and telling them they will not be coming back,” said Dr. Ferrie.
Other items that will be cut or trimmed include overnight, weekend and holiday security workers, transitional content classes at H. Frank Carey High School, the graphic design program including teaches and software expenditures.
“We predicted this three years ago that in a tax cap environment there would come a time where things would get worse,” said Ferrie. “If it continues this way next year we’ll not only have to cut staff but student programs as well, something we’ve avoided doing the last three years.”
On a positive note, some program enhancements include creating a new twilight GED Program overseen by Nassau BOCES, reintroducing a limited program for adult education during spring 2015 at no cost to the district and initiating a pilot co-teaching program in seventh grade at Floral Park Memorial and Carey high schools. This will also be at no additional cost to the district, says Ferrie.
Lawrence Livi, graphic design art teacher at Sewanhaka High School, said the reduction and eventual phasing out of the graphic design program is “very unfortunate for the students at Sewanhaka.”
He explained that the program teaches students to create and design in a special way and that it uses live work to sharpen student’s skills for the real world.
“Graphic design has a 60-year history at Sewanhaka and it would be a shame if it is no longer a resource for Sewanhaka students,” said Livi.
The next school board meeting will be on Tuesday, April 22 at Sewanhaka High School.