Friday, 29 March 2013 00:00Last week, the Massapequa School District presented the community with a budget that calls for 35 teacher layoffs. However, many members of the community probably have more questions than answers, starting with Trustee Gary Bennett, who said he needed more information before he would vote to eliminate any teaching positions. Bennett’s position is commendable in seeking more information, but it’s alarming that a board member is asking for more information so late in the budget process and with the stakes so high regarding program cuts. Why did Bennett not have enough information?
Trustee Joe LaBella also questioned district administration and he raised two good questions. First, he wondered why 35 teaching positions needed to be eliminated, but administrative cuts were minimal. Superintendent Charles Sulc responded that the new teacher evaluation system has doubled the work of administrators. Huh? Yes state mandates have required school personnel to work harder, including teachers implementing the Core Curriculum, so it must be asked why teachers may be reduced but not administrators. There has been very little mention of an administrator’s pay freeze or, gasp, an administrator’s pay cut. Why? Shouldn’t administrators bear the burden equally?
LaBella also asked about claims that the cuts are necessary because of declining enrollment and not a budget shortfall. He wondered how a reduction of 200 students, results in eliminating 35 teachers and he raises a good point. District officials have been warning that a shortfall of $6 million loomed, yet when the actual budget is presented, it was claimed that declining enrollment and not a shortfall was responsible for the personnel cuts. However, don’t those cuts nicely take care of the shortfall?
It must also be asked if the district planned accordingly when making cuts. Sulc said that the enrollment is in line with birth rates and other data collected. If so, why are such drastic cuts needed this year, when the decline is only about 200 to 300 students?
Lastly, Trustee Jane Ryan should be commended for her efforts. She has been warning of the devastating cuts that would result from unfunded mandates and the tax cap. In addition to speaking about the problem, Ryan has lobbied lawmakers in Washington, D.C. and Albany. Actions speak louder than words and Ryan’s actions speak volumes of her concern for the district.
- Ronald Scaglia