With an estimated $2.3 million in cuts needed to comply with new tax cap rules, the Seaford Board of Education has some difficult decisions ahead.
One possible educational cut that the district is exploring in order to avoid exceeding the tax cap would be dropping to eight period days at Seaford High School and Seaford Middle School. Seaford Superintendent Brian Conboy said during Thursday's night school board meeting that reducing from the current nine period schedules at the secondary level would save $600,000 at the middle school and $850,000 at the high school.
Conboy said Seaford has had a nine period day for grades six through 12 since the early 1980s, which has allowed for increased electives, advanced placement courses, team-planning and remedial programs when needed. He said going to eight periods would mean only state-mandated subjects would be offered at Seaford Middle School, which would result in a reduction of six teachers. Seaford High School would lose eight teaching positions if it were to adopt an eight-period model, Conboy stated.
"The one thing that comes from an eight-period day is the lengthening of the class period so there is more instructional time, however the draconian cuts to the program in the eight period day are not an easy trade-off for a few additional minutes in each period," said Conboy during Thursday's board meeting held at the Seaford Harbor School. "This is not an easy thing to talk about."
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Conboy said the only Nassau County high school that currently has an eight period day is Glen Cove.
Other Long Island districts are exploring going to an eight period schedule because a drop in state aid and the challenge of adhering to new tax cap laws. In Seaford's case, when factoring in required payments to the Teacher's Retirement System, the district is permitted a 3.56 tax levy increase for the 2013/14 school year. An executive budget proposal released by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in January has Seaford losing 6.88 percent in state aid.
Another area the district may explore trying to come up with savings for the 2013/14 budget is reverting back to half-day kindergarten after expanding to a full-day program only a few years ago. Conboy said reducing to half-day kindergarten would reduce about $350,000 from the budget.
Seaford school board trustees went through every line of the current budget to come up with other savings to try and avoid going to an eight period day or cutting back on kindergarten sessions. Some areas mentioned where savings could be achieved without impacting programs are in expenses for public relations, security for special events, school field trips, fuel costs and money allocated for Nassau County's water tax. Trustee Susan Ruona also suggested exploring an intramural program at Seaford Middle School in the fall, winter and spring rather than trying to fund a full-fledged athletics program those seasons.
"Everything has to be on the table including sports," said Richard DiBlasio, vice president of the Seaford school board.
"We're not going to find $2.3 million in pens and papers," said Brin Fagan, president of the Seaford Board of Education of the challenge facing the district this budget cycle.
Conboy said he is hopeful that Seaford will get some additional state aid before Albany lawmakers adopt a budget by the end of March. He said the district's goal is to adopt a budget proposal by April 11.
Additional budget discussions are scheduled for school board meetings on March 14, March 21 and April 4. A budget hearing is slated for May 9 with a vote on the spending plan taking place May 21.
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- Cuts to 'High Tax Aid' Hit Local School Districts Hard
- Seaford School Officials Begin Laying Groundwork for 2013/14 Budget
- Seaford PTA Leaders Urge Adding Programs for 2013/14 Budget