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Mar 20, 2013 10:13 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton School Will Have To Cut 12 Positions To Stay Under Tax Levy Cap

Mar 20, 2013 10:39 AM

Southampton School District officials are expecting to cut 12 teaching and non-instructional positions through layoffs and attrition, a move that would save the district approximately $539,453 and keep the district under the state-mandated 2-percent tax levy cap for the 2013-14 school year.

Assistant Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nicholas Dyno said at a Board of Education meeting on Tuesday night that the district has had to “look at some pretty harsh cuts.”

The 12 cuts include three instructional positions in the elementary school and one custodian, all of whom are retiring and won’t be replaced, as well three teachers at the intermediate and high school level who will be laid off, along with five employees holding non-instructional positions throughout the district. The district would lose custodial staff, clerical positions, elementary school teaching assistants, a school nurse, a pre-kindergarten teacher and a data specialist.

“When we looked at personnel cuts, we looked at projected enrollments, historical data and what we currently have,” Dr. Dyno said. “We’re looking to have a smaller pre-K. This year we offered full-day pre-K, but in this budget we’re going back to half-day. We’re reducing kindergarten from five sections to four, because we’re expecting 80 students next year instead of our usual 100.”

The proposed budget is $57.6 million, a $2.1 million increase in spending from this year. The tax levy would be approximately $46 million, an increase of 2.46 percent, or $1.1 million. The proposed tax rate is $2.42 per $1,000 of assessed value, up 6 cents per $1,000 from this year’s $2.36 tax rate, meaning that a homeowner whose home is valued at $1 million could expect to pay approximately $2,420 in taxes next year—about $62.20 more than this year.

According to Assistant Superintendent for Business Maria Smith, the numbers are still fluid and will be tweaked over the next few weeks. She said she expects further increases to the budget, due to such factors as higher-than-anticipated contributions to the New York State Teacher and Employee Retirement System.

“This is our new reality,” Ms. Smith said about the tight spending plan. “We can only take so many people out of the budget. We have to start to look at programs and how we do things.”

Ms. Smith said that when officials decided what staff positions to cut, they tried to make it an “equal opportunity reduction,” meaning they didn’t focus on cutting from any one area, but said that they had to decipher “what are luxuries and what are necessities.”

The planned cuts to staff has not been without criticism. Parent Danielle Laibowitz spoke up at the meeting on Tuesday, saying she was unhappy that a nurse position was expected to be cut.

“I am very disappointed and dismayed at the idea that my children are going to go backward in their care in the district,” she said, explaining that she has worked with the district in the past to get better medical attention for her kids.

She said it was difficult to get a floater, or substitute, nurse so that her children weren’t left uncovered with their medical needs. “If you are going to cut that position, I will demand to know how that is going to be taken care of in unequivocal terms—field trips, after-school activities—my children are guaranteed under the law to be covered.”

Board President Heather McCallion said that the budget season has not been an easy process.

“The budget gap keeps widening as you look over the years,” she said. “It’s one thing to have a budget, but we need a budget that passes.”

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Perhaps if the teachers opted to not get their two raises, step and annual, no one would loose their job.
By powerwalker1 (3), on Mar 20, 13 11:21 AM
I've never seen anyone suggest that the PBA give up their raises to help the Town stay within their budget caps.
By Funbeer (273), Southampton on Mar 20, 13 12:58 PM
3 members liked this comment
Holy moly, districts have to stay within their budgets, and tough decisions have to be made. Welcome to the real world!
By kpjc (161), east quogue on Mar 20, 13 4:59 PM
1 member liked this comment
I guess "management" positions are immune? And what about those cross subsidies to other institutions, should they not be cut first?
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Mar 20, 13 6:08 PM
The pension contribution wouldnt be so onerous if the pensiion was based on there base pay and not the additional pay from teaching other courses in their golden year to increase the benefit; If they was no accrual and cash out of sick, vacation, and personal days. Those perks should be use or lose each year. Teachers do get paid enough as they gain years and the pension benefits are the killer to all municipal budgets.This is systemic and needs to change. Oh we are losing kids as more people leave ...more
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on Mar 21, 13 6:33 AM
2 members liked this comment
Having 3 teachers and 1 custodian retiring and the positions not being filled is a step in the right direction. How about cutting some of the administrative costs? The district is incredibly top heavy, surely there is some waste and duplication in the Superintendant's Office that can be eliminated.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Mar 21, 13 7:53 AM
I bet there is a lot of fat to cut in admin before teaching positions might have to be affected if the admins were actually looking. Do we really need THREE vice principals? Maybe one could float? Do we really need so many administrative supervisory positions in the district office? Could students be asked (gasp) to take over some of the cleaning chores in the schools for community service credit? Can parent volunteers be made better use of? etc, etc some new thinking needs to be applied.
By M. O'Connor (147), Southampton on Mar 21, 13 11:15 AM