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Commack School Board Adopts $171M Budget, 2.6 Percent Tax Levy Bump

Board trustees unanimously approve budget that includes approximately 37 teacher layoffs, 6 custodians and multiple co-curricular clubs.

Commack Board of Education adopted the proposed $171M budget for the 2012-13 school year Thursday night, which calls for a tax levy increase of 2.6 percent. 

The vote to adopt the proposed budget was unanimous after more than a month of public controversy about where $4.5 million in cuts was coming from. 

"I really want to say this from the bottom of my heart, I don't want anyone out there to think we are taking this decision lightly," trustee Peter Wunsch said. 

Under the proposed $171 million budget, the school district . There will be 17.24 teacher and staff reductions at the elementary schools, with approximately six positions lost due to student enrollment. There will be an additional 10.1 teaching positions at and 10.53 positions at . 

Superintendent Donald James said the district is close to closing a deal with the administrative and secretarial staff members that will prevent layoffs. The district remains at the negotiating table with the teachers' union, but no compromise has been reached. 

If the adopted budget is approved, school officials will cut 14 co-curricular clubs at the high school, five co-curricular clubs at the middle school, and cutting back on the number of Intramural hours at the intermediate schools. 

School officials are proposing to eliminate the assistant sports coaches for 12 varsity sports teams and four middle school teams. There will be a elimination of non-league contests at Commack High School and cutting the varsity boys and girls swimming teams. 

The adopted budget represents at $5,262,856 increase over the 2011-12 school year, or 3.17 percent increase. School officials estimate it will cost the average taxpaying homeowner an additional $250 per year. 

As the district's adopted 2.6 percent budget falls under its state-allowed 4.1 percent tax cap, Commack school officials need simple majority approval from voters on May 15. 

Click here for Patch's full comprehensive coverage of Commack's 2012-13 school budget. 

Charkhian April 23, 2012 at 02:12 AM
Dan Fusco, you’ve got my vote.
Dawn-Marie Bailey April 23, 2012 at 02:14 AM
You worded that very well. Better than I could have. I agree 100%. It IS time for change and time to shake things up. It amazes me too, the decisions the BOE has been making these last few years, when none of it would be permitted in the "real business world".
John D April 23, 2012 at 02:18 AM
Hey MJS, what happened to CommackDaddy?? You really shut him up. I'd LOVE to know what teacher he is!! Good Job! He doesn't care about our Commack kids, he only cares about his over-the-top raise he gets every year.
Michael April 23, 2012 at 02:24 AM
Great to see that you are off the fence Dawn! We do need change. Only people with their heads in the sand would agree to the kind of wage enhancement packages we have seen this board agree to and think it is perfectly acceptable to "pass the hat" around to the community to pay for it all and expect us to be thankful for the privilege!
Michael April 23, 2012 at 02:28 AM
Commack Daddy? You wont be hearing from him no more!!!!!
John D April 23, 2012 at 02:54 AM
I know, but why can't he be outed? He wants to spew all of his pro-board propaganda. He teaches our children and spreads lies on OUR community patch. He doesn't pay property taxes in Commack, only collects a paycheck. I'D LOVE TO KNOW WHAT TEACHER HE/SHE IS!!
pbug56 April 23, 2012 at 04:43 AM
There some constants in Commack School budgets. 1. Raise or not, the superintendent makes a small fortune- and that's before all the perq's. 2. Teachers, good or bad, still have ways to keep getting big raises year after year. 3. Many residents have lost their jobs, ended up with much lower paying jobs, or if they are lucky still have their jobs with little or no raises. 4. When you go to big budget meetings, the Board reminds you how little you count by doing an extended dog and pony show to start the meeting, thus making the meetings go late and with little time for budget questions. 5. There will always be lots of games going on with the budget, and the board will tell the public as little as they can. And that's gotten worse with the new superintendent, since the previous one was a lot more informative.
Sara W April 23, 2012 at 12:33 PM
This message is for Dan Fusco. I just started reading the Patch and I thought I read one of these posts that you posted in the Patch. Do you? Are you Michael? I only ask because I remember Dan speaking at a Bd meeting about how he dealt with numbers and spreadsheets and so does Michael. Just trying to put a voice to the face. Thanks.
Michael April 23, 2012 at 12:36 PM
No Sara, Im Michael and im not running for Trustee, but I do fully support Dan!!!
Sara W April 23, 2012 at 12:44 PM
OK - Thanks.
Michael April 23, 2012 at 02:01 PM
Hey all, Patch isnt the only place where disgruntled Commack taxpayers are congregating. Take a look at this. http://www.newsday.com/long-island/towns/long-island-now-1.1732330/layoffs-in-commack-school-budget-1.3639733#disqus_thread
MJS April 23, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Bob Smith: Whether a person has kids in school district is irrelevant..as they pay taxes too.... For all you know Jim T, like I and many parents have done every year voted no to the budget even though our kids were in the Schools. . I like many others parents with Kid's in schools are afraid to speak out publicly in fear that our kid's will be retaliated against...A person without kid's in the district doesn't have to worry about that ..and is now free to voice their opinion publicly. In fact, that fear is what the Board and Union's rely on for to keep people quiet. Also, Jim T's article doesn't tell anyone how to vote or to vote No on the budget, he specifically says people should make their own decision based on being informed of the facts.
MJS April 23, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Bob Smith - Dan Fusco is apparently a working guy.. He's not in academia..or a polished politician. That's what I like about him.... He can bring a common working man's approach to fiscal issues, etc.. The fact that there are not more people like him on the Board is shame... the Board should be comprised of the working class Commack community..those who don't have any interest or ties to teacher's and the unions. A trained monkey could do a better job than the people we have on the Board now...
Michael April 23, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Another excellent study about what the future may hold unless we get our heads out of the sand and create some change! http://www.empirecenter.org/Documents/PDF/PensionExplosion.12.20101.pdf
Diane April 23, 2012 at 03:39 PM
If and when you find out when you find out about the teacher incident, you may be happy he stood up to question the investigation. Some of us in the audience know exactly what he was talking about!! You should too, but do you see how you still know nothing!! Why can't everyone know whats happening in our schools ?
Bonnie April 25, 2012 at 10:50 PM
It truly amazes me that after corporate greed brought the economy to its knees, after government bail outs, after the people elect a governor who all but crippled the ability of all school districts to maintain programs, this community is bashing the teachers. I am a teacher. And a parent, and a community member. I pay taxes the same of everyone else who lives here. The teachers who work here pay taxes for their schools. You want them to pay here too? How many of you are giving back what you've earned at your jobs to support the schools? I'm sure the answer is none. Unless you're a teacher, anywhere on LI. Then you are supporting the budget in the district you live and the one where you work, just like I am. Anyone else doing that? Let's also be clear. Step increases aren't automatic raises. That system was created by schools to delay paying a teacher median income. Salaries are gradually increased each year to save the districts money. That is money already worked for and earned. Again, anyone paying back money to their job they earned in a previous year? One last thing. Many teachers in other districts already froze their pay or gave back future raises to help save teachers and programs. The CTA has also and are negotiating to do it again. Our memories are short. Although I think it was irresponsible that large administrative raises were given, Dr. James is not the problem. Neither are the teachers or members of the community. Look at Albany. There's the problem.
TMR23 April 25, 2012 at 11:45 PM
I don't think people are asking the teacher to give back but rather agree to no raises. There comes a point in time where you cant afford to give anymore. Teachers now a days are compenstaed very nicely. the step program was designed a long time ago to give teachers the money the should have started with. Today the starting salary is no where near it was then. when you say freeze their salary you are forgetting to mention that includes an extension of their contract. Whats wrong with not getting a raise for 1, 2, or 3 years? most long islanders are not. Bottom line is Albany needs to change and we as a community need to work together for the children. BOE needs to start listening to the community.
Michael April 25, 2012 at 11:51 PM
Bonnie, as a teacher, dont you think that mixing sociology into an economic discussion muddys the waters and obfuscates the crux of the issue? You say you are a teacher. I am not, but I do work, just as you do. And like you, I am a parent, and a community member. I also pay taxes as you do. As a teacher, you should know that when you say the teachers who work here pay taxes for their schools is really a moot point. We all pay taxes. You talk about short memories, but look at how quickly you have forgotten that the community has approved budgets that supported teacher contracts that exceeded the rate of inflation for many years. Thus, you and your fellow educators have enjoyed real wage gains during the worst economic downturn during your lifetime. And yet you are ungrateful. When people in the community, who have been so generous over the years say "we need some relief," you reply "tough." And then there is the Ace in the Hole. Albany. Tell Albany to give us back $1 for every dollar we pay in taxes. But as an educator, you must know that the upstate region does not have nearly the economic capability that the downstate region does, thus the redistribution of wealth. Wont you even do your part for your fellow New Yorkers? But thats not a real argument because we both know that redistribution of wealth happens in every state in the country. You know that will never change as do I. But then, facts are rarely the issue when sociology gets mixed into economic discussions, right?
Michael April 26, 2012 at 12:08 AM
A must read http://www.statebudgetsolutions.org/publications/detail/bill-gates-turn-step-raises-into-merit-pay-save-money-by-increasing-class-sizes
Re April 26, 2012 at 12:09 AM
The Board has granted the staff everything their hearts desire because the majority in the district have never opposed the budget by voting it down. Most never had the opportunity to analyze the district costs as it has been very difficult to get answers about expenses without foiling details about benefits and costs. Ask the PTA budget committee whether they receive detailed data. Their job was to act as cheerleader for a yes budget vote and make phone calls telling us to support the budget. IF enough individuals take a stand The board will know to stop the giveaways.
Dawn-Marie Bailey April 26, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Bonnie, I am not a teacher basher. I have been saying all along if the CTA was to negotiate and do what they could to save their own, I would be behind them 100%. So, if that is indeed what they are doing, I am completely on the CTA's side. My biggest problem is with the BOE & Administration. The Administrator's inflated salaries & perks simply disgust me.To me, the whole thing seems to be "top heavy". Why aren't more administrators being cut? I do not applaud their "salary freeze" when they all just recently received raises. I've been saying all along, that in their cases, pay freezes are no longer good enough. If they REALLY were to "put the students first", I believe a pay cut (of maybe 10%) would REALLY prove that & save many teachers & student programs. But I guess I am just a dreamer. Also, people working in other areas of business (besides education) are suffering during this economy. Most people are NOT getting raises. Many people are unemployed or getting laid off & having to take jobs making half of what they used to make.This is how the REAL business world works. The BOE needs to understand this & make the appropriate changes. I am infuriated that our BOE hired a Superintendent for a salary of over $350,000/yr. I've been saying it all along & I will say it again, I want to see the cuts from the top down. I want our teachers & student programs saved. But from what I've been told, it's already too late to do that this year. I am at a loss as to what to do.
Re April 26, 2012 at 12:34 AM
Please remind Bonnie that 100 percent of our property taxes are returned to our neighborhoods and the school. When we pay state taxes we want some of it to be used for our Suny colleges,state parks and all of NY's highway system. We want clean water all throughout NY. Next year Ssunken Meadow Park will be renovated, and there is lots of work scheduled for this area so you see they are returning funds to us for all of our benefit.-not just the Long island public school system.
Dawn-Marie Bailey April 26, 2012 at 12:35 AM
Michael, I am on the fence about the merit thing in the education system. I fear it can lead to favoritism and/or teaching to test (as from what I hear, the teachers are also rated on the student's test scores). i don't know what the answer is to that one.
MJS April 26, 2012 at 12:53 AM
Bonnie: Unlike some of the 20 or more school districts in LI, the CTA has never taken a salary freeze...never...
John Gruber April 26, 2012 at 01:24 AM
I don't see anyone really "bashing" teachers, people are just pointing out that their relatively large rising salaries, along with that of Dr. James and other administrators are not economically feasible. There's no excuse to keep paying your emplyees more when you're losing millions of dollars
Michael April 26, 2012 at 01:38 AM
I understand what youre saying Dawn. You want things to be right, but as hard as you look, you cant seem to find the solution. Im sure you are not alone. But remember one thing. Ive put up so many articles, studies and financial reports dealing with salaries, spending and pensions. Invariably, the words unsustainable, timebomb and excessive keep cropping up. By all means, if there is a budget supporter out there that can introduce me do a study or article that says towns are flush with cash and should be spending more on education, please forward it to me because I cant find it.
Dawn-Marie Bailey April 26, 2012 at 01:44 AM
What scares me is I believe we are already at the "unsustainable, timebomb and excessive" point. I believe things aren't about to explode (or should Is say implode?), I believe it's already happening and most people don't realize it (especially the BOE).
Michael April 26, 2012 at 01:54 AM
There are people here that see it Dawn. The people that dont seem to realize the coming day of reckoning usually have a vested interest in the status quo.
Michael May 07, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Here is a must read! Please visit this page and forward to all your friends!!! http://commack.patch.com/blog_posts/time-for-change-why-commack-needs-a-new-slate-of-trustees-for-its-school-board
Nancy May 08, 2012 at 05:59 AM
2011-2012 Salaries $354,057 Superintendent of Schools $237,046 Asst. Superintendent $244,177 Asst. Superintendent $235,015 Asst. Superintendent 152,119 Asst. Director 174,879 Director 174,879 Director 153,725 Director 171,821 Director 135,000 Administrative Asst. 164,922 Asst. Principal 170,796 Asst. Principal 162,643 Principal 147,607 Asst. Principal 183,279 Principal 165,703 Asst. Principal 143,859 Asst. Principal 156,919 Asst. Principal 167,996 Asst. Principal 183,802 Principal 150,666 Principal 162,643 Asst. Principal 147,607 Principal 177,679 Principal 171,821 Principal 155,000 Principal 130,344 Chairperson 130,093 Coordinator 135,600 Coordinator 154,919 Coordinator 146,612 Coordinator 132,800 Coordinator 132,800 Coordinator Before one student is taught one lesson! The Salary of Governor Cuomo is $179,000 per year! The President of the United States $400,000 per year! Your Vote is your voice! Vote No to runaway spending! Vote Fusco! NYSED.gov Ed Management Services New York State School Administrator Salary Disclosure http://www.p12.nysed.gov/mgtserv/admincomp/ Here is the link these salaries include benefits 2011-2012 school year they will be more next year!

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