Glen Cove school district voters will go to the polls Tuesday to decide the fate of a $72 million budget that includes an eight-period school day, teacher layoffs and the reduction of clubs.
The budget – which is the district’s annual spending – calls for an increase of 2.4 percent. The tax levy, which is the amount of money that needs to be raised locally, is estimated to increase 3.3 percent.
The switch from a nine-period to an eight-period school day in the high school and middle school is one of the biggest changes included in the current budget, as the removal of ninth period will lead to employee cuts and teacher layoffs, Middle School Principal Anael Alston said.
The current budget includes the reduction of 19.2 district-wide positions: 11.7 teachers, two custodians, three clerical positions and two monitors.
While Superintendent Dr. Joseph Laira has called this budget year the worst he's seen in his 32 years of experience, he said the Board must distinguish between the wants and needs of the district.
“We must have the courage to say no to some of the things we want so that we will have the capacity to say yes to the things we really need,” Laria said.
Because of increases in mandated operating costs, the board has produced a long list of programs considered "on the table" – meaning they can face cuts if this budget fails.
High school Digital Photography teacher Melissa Manzione says her program has been considered "on the table" for potential cuts.
"Having these classes available to them [students] is such a wonderful thing, not just because it makes them well-rounded, but it is a serious career option," said Manzione. "Creative arts are so important in the world right now, and it's really important to embrace what we do offer the kids at ."
While six of the seven board members voted to approve the budget, trustee David Huggins said that he believes the district could still cut more to reduce spending.
“I can not support this budget as it's being presented,”Huggins said. “There’s still some more cuts that need to be made. I’ve actually given into a lot of the capital improvement things that I think are major priorities in all of these buildings, but we need to eliminate more stuff. We have a responsibility not to just this school district that but the entire tax paying population. This budget is not low enough for me. I cannot in good conscious vote for it.”
Like Huggins, resident Rick Smith said that the budget is still not low enough.
“I admire and appreciate the board’s effort,” Smith said, “but I believe they could have done a lot more; as did Dave Huggins, who alluded to the fact that the board changed their minds once they were before the public.”
The Glen Cove School District has provided the following review of budget inclusions and exclusions for 2011-12 school year.