“This was the work of the entire East Islip community coming together for the children,” said Board of Education President Glenn Reed, capping off the Board’s unanimous June 5 vote to adopt a new 2012-13 budget. The packed crowd at the District Office’s first-floor cafeteria erupted in hopeful applause at the announcement that this second budget would stay below New York State’s tax cap limit while preserving crucial but threatened programs and services such as full-day kindergarten, the nine-period day at the high school and middle school, a robust music program and varsity and JV athletics.
The newly adopted $105.8 million budget reflects a 2.99 percent tax levy increase, well under the state-imposed 3.23 percent tax levy cap, retooling made possible through a combination of judicious personnel reductions, a significant employee compensation modification (with no contract extension or deferrals) and new state aid.
Included in this budget would be full-day kindergarten, the high school and middle school nine-period day, the full complement of varsity and JV sports, almost the entire current music program and the retention of two elementary computer lab teaching assistants.
On the other side of the ledger, the budget would eliminate sixth-grade foreign-language classes, third-grade instrumental music lessons and late buses, along with general reductions in equipment, contractual expenses and materials and supplies. School clubs would be trimmed and consolidated at the elementary, middle and high school levels. A total of 27 staff positions would be cut: one elementary librarian, one guidance counselor, one AIS math teacher, one social worker, one BOCES social worker, five computer lab assistants, 12 inclusion-classroom teaching assistants (to be replaced by 12 paraprofessionals), six secretarial positions, one music teacher, one additional administrator, three custodians, one general education teacher, two paraprofessionals, .5 special education teacher, 1.5 middle school foreign language teachers and one security position.
Productive meetings with the District’s school employee units resulted in the following money-saving compromise concessions: a one-time reduction in the employee welfare trust (totaling $320,000) and a compensation give-back from District office administrators. There are no reciprocal contract deferrals or extensions associated with these arrangements. Instead, members of the East Islip Teachers Association will have a summer conference day requirement waived, and other members will be given one floating holiday.
Reed thanked the unions and their representatives for their cooperation, noting that they had spent “many hours, weekends, nights” hammering out the needed give-backs. “Our employee base has risen to the occasion,” he said.
The new budget was also strongly impacted by the infusion of additional state aid, thanks to the efforts of local legislators. State Sen. Lee Zeldin will sponsor a legislative resolution – intended for approval by June 21 – that will provide $120,000 in state aid for East Islip, to be used to support an investment in upgrading the District’s technology infrastructure. This new money allowed District officials to reduce the tax levy increase to 2.99 percent.
The revised budget, up for revote on June 19, will need only a simple majority (50 percent plus one) to pass, compared to the 60 percent supermajority that would have been required for the prior $107.6 million budget that failed on May 15. Should the budget revote fail, the resulting contingency budget or “tax freeze” would require additional cuts of $1.9 million and would mean not only the loss of all the restored programs (including full-day kindergarten, the nine-period day, the athletic program and non-mandated music), but additional major staff and program reductions.
Prior to adopting the budget, Superintendent of Schools John J. Finello recognized Assistant Superintendent for Business Carl Fraser’s achievement in winning the Philip B. Fredenburg Memorial Award from the New York State Association of School Business Officials (NYSASBO), in honor of Fraser’s longtime outstanding service.
The Board also approved a resolution to extend Finello’s contract as interim superintendent for another year, again with a unanimous vote. Reed praised the superintendent’s hard work on the budget process and noted how much the District benefited from Finello’s vast experience, leading to a standing ovation from the audience.
In other business, the Board announced the pending retirements of East Islip High School Assistant Principal Kevin Brown (after 10 years of service) and music teacher Patricia DeRosa-Padden (who has taught general music and chorus at the District’s schools for 25 years, most recently at Timber Point).
The Board will hold a Budget Hearing on Tuesday, June 12 at 7 p.m. in the first-floor cafeteria of the District Office, during which the public can ask questions and make comments.
Further, the Board will hold its regular monthly meeting on Thursday, June 14 at 8 p.m., followed by a special meeting to announce the budget revote results on June 19 at 9 p.m. Both meetings will take place at the District Office boardroom.
Budget Adoption: 2012-13
2012-13 Budget Analysis for Revote