Board Discusses Cost-Cutting and Fair Funding Campaign

Cost-cutting initiatives to aid in the upcoming budget were welcome news at the March 13 East Islip Board of Education monthly meeting. Assistant Superintendent for Business Carl Fraser noted that Suffolk Transportation will reduce their contractual 2012-2013 fee increase from 6 percent to 3 percent, equating to $200,000 in reduced costs for the District. Suffolk Transportation also recommended changing starting and ending times to 9:35 a.m. to 3:35 p.m. for all four elementary schools in the District, which would save $211,200. Fraser lastly stated that auditing fees from Nawrocki Smith, Arthur Venezia and Cullen & Danowski will also be reduced, saving $12,600. The total amount of District cost-cutting savings from these professional service providers would be $423,800.

Superintendent of Schools John J. Finello mentioned that emergency drills will take place at the district’s schools between March 19 and March 30. Finello also had preliminary discussions with SCOPE over possible extended kindergarten programming. Citing the importance of good news, he congratulated the Environment Green Career Academy for their impressive win at Dowling College’s Long Island Youth Summit Competition, in which their first-place project yielded scholarship funding and paid internships at a North Shore-LIJ Health Systems hospital. He also lauded East Islip High School’s Mock Trial team for winning their case in the opening round of the New York Statewide High School Mock Trial Tournament, and the school’s Academic Team for their February 14 win over Patchogue-Medford High School in MSG Varsity’s “The Challenge.”   

Board President Glenn Reed informed the community that the planned second Budget Presentation for Thursday, March 15 had been canceled, with the next presentation being March 27. He also noted that Board approved the Connetquot playground bid awarded to Louis Barbato Landscaping and announced the retirement of longtime custodian Mike Doscher.

Donations announced included a solar panel installation in the high school’s courtyard, courtesy of Direct Grid Technologies, and $23,000 from the East Islip Athletic Booster Club for middle school sports. Booster Club President Sue Perini requested that the Board provide the additional funding necessary to cover the middle school’s spring sports program. Reed affirmed that the District will fund the $20,4000 needed, saying “I am glad we are able to make things happen as a community.”

Board member Kim G. Phillips introduced the District’s new fair funding email campaign. Directed at representatives in state government, it is intended to address the inequality in New York State aid distributed to local school districts. Phillips urged community members to participate by visiting the District website’s Advocate for Fair Funding page.

Lastly, it was the community’s turn to speak, and dozens of audience members came to the podium, some to speak in passionate budget-related support of programs such as music or full-day kindergarten, others to query the Board.

The next Board of Education meeting will take place on April 19, 2012.