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Mar 23, 2011 1:18 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Twelve Positions Could Be Cut In Westhampton Beach School District

Mar 23, 2011 1:18 PM

Westhampton Beach School Board members greeted Monday night’s final budget presentation with a resounding hush after learning that the proposed $50.5 million spending plan would slash 12 positions next year in order to save the district about $500,000.

“Well, these certainly are sobering days,” School Board President Aram Terchunian said on Monday night while the remaining six board members nodded in agreement.

Over the next few weeks, School Board members will consider the proposed budget, which increases overall spending by about $1.5 million, or 3.1 percent over this year’s nearly $49 million spending plan.

It is unclear how the estimated $25.7 million tax levy—up 3.89 percent, or nearly $1 million, from this year—will affect taxpayers, though Superintendent of Schools Lynn Schwartz said on Tuesday that he expects that the budget, as it now stands, would bump up the current tax rate—$5.57 per $1,000 of assessed value—by about 4 percent.

“We truly think we’ve taken into account the financial landscape, and we know we need to be respectful to our taxpayers, more so now than ever before,” Mr. Schwartz said on Monday night. “But at the same time, we’re also obligated to provide kids with experiences and programs that allow them to be successful.

“With that in mind, we gave you the budget with a 3.1-percent increase, but it does call for some cutbacks and some reductions from existing budgets—this year, specifically,” he continued.

The budget would cut 12 positions throughout the district, Mr. Schwartz said. Those proposed cuts include the elimination of three part-time teaching positions, which would cut the seventh grade study skills program, the elementary and middle school orchestra programs and the high school American sign language program.

Also, two full-time teaching positions—a high school math teacher and special education teacher, who are both retiring this year—would not be filled. Additional cuts include three full-time teacher aides, one monitor, one part-time clerical position, a full-time security guard and a part-time nurse. Finally, there would be a 25 percent cut across the board on all conferences, field trips and other educational assemblies.

Mr. Schwartz declined to identify the employees whose positions would be eliminated. He said the School Board will hold a special meeting at the high school auditorium on Monday, March 28, at 7 p.m., to further discuss the budget.

“This was all very difficult, we tried very hard …” Mr. Schwartz said when reached on Tuesday, before trailing off. “These programs clearly provide a good service, but in light of the district’s efforts to present a budget that is respectful to the community, we felt that even with these programs eliminated, our students can participate in other programs that will provide 
them with wonderful experiences.”

Mr. Schwartz attributes about 75 percent of the budget increase to several financial challenges that the district is facing next year, including teacher and employee retirement system fees that are jumping by about $884,000, from $2.4 million to $3.3 million, and health insurance costs that are expected to climb by about $266,000, from $4.1 million to $4.4 million.

District salaries are slated to increase 3.15 percent, from about $25.9 million to $26.7 million, Mr. Schwartz said. “We are speaking to several of our collective bargaining units to see if there’s any interest in providing the district with some givebacks given the financial climate,” he said.

Mr. Terchunian said during Monday night’s meeting that he expects the board to adopt a budget in early April.

“We have some difficult decisions as we figure out what to adopt and what not to adopt,” he said. “We all need to work together to bring this to a successful conclusion. We’re very, very close, but we still have a few weeks left of work to do.”

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How about cutting the ADMINISTRATION AND SUPERINTENDANT'S POSITIONS? Pay some of the teachers a per diam to do the BS work that the superintendants do?
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Mar 22, 11 3:01 PM
“We are speaking to several of our collective bargaining units to see if there’s any interest in providing the district with some givebacks given the financial climate.”

Good luck, with that...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Mar 22, 11 3:20 PM
Why not wait and see
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Mar 22, 11 8:31 PM
How about, I ain't holdin' my breath.

These people are operating straight out of the "Corporate America" handbook. No cuts, and raises for the "board", layoffs, jobs, and hours cut at the bottom.

I've got this can of Folgers, you just need to sniff...
Mar 24, 11 7:49 PM appended by Mr. Z
BTW, Time magazine, November 9, 1998.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Mar 24, 11 7:49 PM
Givebacks should start with the Administras and Superintendants office. The overall budget should not have any increases over last year. Vote NO
By westhamptonboy (227), Westhampton on Mar 22, 11 4:16 PM
Teachers are more important than computers. Individual computers are a
luxury that the most affluent schools don't supply. Computers in classrooms
where they are needed is all that is necessary. Eliminating individual
computers and the support that is needed to maintain them should be
looked at before the threat of eliminating the most critical aspect of learning,
the teacher....

By jb89 (1), westhampton on Mar 22, 11 9:38 PM
If they can come up with refurbishable hardware, I could help with that. I've been known to fix a PC seriously "on the cheap". You just have to know how, and where to shop, as well as what is worthy of an upgrade.

I might even be inclined to teach a class on basic computer construction in my free time.
Mar 22, 11 10:34 PM appended by Mr. Z
P.S. NO macs, PLEASE, and Ubuntu is FREE.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Mar 22, 11 10:34 PM
Why is it that administrators assistant administrators, assistant principals or principals are never cut. Why can't the superintentant oversee the schools. what does the super really do?
By maxwell (169), speonk on Mar 23, 11 2:15 PM
3 members liked this comment
Yeah, what the heck does he do for $225k per annum? He should teach 50 classes per week for that kind of money.
By Old School (22), Southampton on Mar 23, 11 5:05 PM
I agree with bigfresh. They are going to eliminate a bunch of $30 per annum jobs to keep their $225k jobs. It's nothing new. It cracks me up that Schwartz got all choked up over letting all of those border-line-poverty jobs go, cutting programs, but didn't mention an across the board cut for the administration.
By Old School (22), Southampton on Mar 23, 11 5:03 PM
See response to progressnow, above...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Mar 24, 11 8:06 PM
Every Student gets a school issued laptop and you have to cut staff? You just installed a new turf field? Sounds like a chess match. Do not forget the feeder districts can send their students to another school. Be careful
By sag runner (24), Easthampton on Mar 24, 11 10:52 AM
I was a student at WHBHS during the dawn of the laptop era and can say with conviction that the initiative has provided little to no benefit to the students. In fact, the portable PCs have certainly caused their share of problems including pornography and theft. Readers of this site may not be as lucky as me in that I am "friends," if only on Facebook, with many current Westhampton students. Judging by their daily activity on the site and the content they release, it would be hard for any reasonable ...more
By wrk (20), East Quogue on Mar 24, 11 12:37 PM
3 members liked this comment
This just in:

Trojans for MacBooks coming soon!

And yep, pun intended...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Mar 24, 11 7:46 PM
that new turf field was the best money ever spent
By westhamptonboy (227), Westhampton on Mar 24, 11 5:08 PM
Did the school board create a red herring?Does apple have a long contract? Time for the administration to be examples and make a finacial sacrifice.
By 3k (7), easthampton on Mar 24, 11 7:27 PM
Hopefully not.

Unless things have changed, Apple products are usually about double the price, for the same hardware you can get anywhere else. There are educational discounts from places like TigerDirect, and you don't even necessarily need to use Windows. Ubuntu is a great FREE operating system, and many of the software companies out there write versions for Linux.

They probably chose them because to the "no virus" thing, no BIOS access, and their proprietary software, but I ...more
Mar 24, 11 8:04 PM appended by Mr. Z
Also, with Windows, you can set up restricted accounts on the PCs, block particular websites, and even lock out the BIOS, so there is no easy way for anyone to change the function of the OS, reformat the drive, or replace the OS with an unrestricted one. Who runs that show?
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Mar 24, 11 8:04 PM
As a fellow former student I am bewildered by this article. While I understand that by the numbers there needs to be a a cut somewhere to offset the increasing salary costs and operating fees, I do not understand cutting useful and even necessary teaching positions. The loss of a few aides, monitors and security personnel is not a big deal. However, as a student at a competitive university I can personally attest to the need for a class such as study skills. I'm sure anyone who has attended college ...more
By khubba02 (1), Westhampton Beach on Mar 25, 11 11:32 AM
1 member liked this comment