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Commack School Officials Lay Out Teaching Cuts, School by School

Informal budget hearing scheduled for 8 p.m. Thursday at Commack High School.

Commack school officials laid out a school-by-school break down of where they propose cutting 40 teaching positions in the latest budget update. 

Superintendent Donald James has recommended a $170.4 million budget for the 2012-13 school year, or 2.6 percent tax levy, requiring roughly $4.5 million in cuts. Under the proposed budget, the district would lay off roughly 40-60 teachers, one administrator, two secretaries, six custodians and still need to make an additional $700,000 in cuts to programs. 

Adele Pecora-Dusanenko, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, laid out where 37.89 teachers and three teaching assistants will be cut from, school-by-school at the March 29 budget workshop. 

The largest proposed staffing cuts will affect Commack's elementary schools, with 17.24 teacher and staff reductions. The proposed staffing calls for the elimination of four kindergarten teachers, three second and fourth-grade teachers, and one teacher each in first and third grade. Other cuts will be made in to special areas, arts, music, physical education and the library based on reductions to the number of class sections. 

Pecora-Dusanenko said some of the staffing reductions in the younger grades, especially kindergarten, can be attributed to decreasing student enrollment. Commack Union-Free School District's overall enrollment is expected to drop by 150 to 200 students for the 2012-13 school year. 

The largest increase in class sizes will be within the kindergarten classes, currently at 20.8 students this year projected to jump to 23 students for the 2012-13 school year. The second largest class size will be among third graders, from an average of 23.4 this year to a projected 24.9 students per classroom. 

School officials proposed to cut 10.1 teaching positions from , with an estimated six positions being eliminated due to shrinking enrollment according to Pecora-Dusanenko. 

The largest cuts at the middle school level will be to world languages, physical education and science classes. The areas of ESL, guidance, library, nurses, psychologists, special education, nurses and social workers will not be affected by the cuts. 

At , the proposed $170 million budget calls for the eliminated of 10.53 teaching positions. The areas facing the largest staff cuts are: 1.9 science teachers, 1.3 music teachers, 1.2 in art, 1.2 in world languages and one business teacher. 

Commack school district will be receiving some additional state aid for 2012-13 school year, as New York State Budget was finalized this week, according to district spokeswoman Brenda Lentsch. The exact amount and plans for this funding are expected to be shared at Thursday night's meeting. 

James has repeatedly said at prior budget workshops that his recommendations for additional funds would be to restore some of the staffing cuts, particularly towards teachers. 

The Board of Education and school officials are in negotiations with many of the district's unions after t

"We are negotiating every contract we can in effort to find savings and save programs. To manage to maintain programs is the ultimate goal. That matter of striking a balance is what we are in now," James said. 

If the district was to proposed a 4.1 percent budget its allowed under Gov. Andrew Cuomo's tax cap, James said the district may be able to save approximately 13 of the teaching positions currently on the chopping block. 

Commack school officials and the Board of Education will hold an informal budget hearing 8 p.m. Thursday, April 5 at Commack High School. 

Commack Daddy April 05, 2012 at 09:42 PM
That's a big assumption since no ones running against her yet.
Commack Daddy April 05, 2012 at 09:49 PM
John, you misunderstand me. I don't think voting yes will change the system. I just don't think a no vote will change it either. I think the only real change can come through legislation changing the way we fund school districts. So while I continue writing letters and contacting my elected officials and vote in a way that I think will affect the change we desire, I'll vote yes on the budget - and if you get a candidate to run for the board who can lower my taxes and provide a great education for my kid too, I'll vote for that person as well. But in the meantime, I'll still VOTE YES on the budget.
Baba Booey April 05, 2012 at 11:41 PM
That 11-13% increase has already left the building!! Anyone think he built this into his contract so he could afford to pose as someone who gives back?
Baba Booey April 05, 2012 at 11:43 PM
and no one will.... and if you do the PTA will rally the troops and get her reelected.
Baba Booey April 05, 2012 at 11:45 PM
the District Clerk records every vote so you can find out. how convenient they waited until the first summer meeting when no one attends....
Grace April 05, 2012 at 11:54 PM
Commack Cares and Commack Daddy, by voting yes you will only perpetuate the wasteful spending. The administrative salaries having a pay freeze is not sufficient. There should be a 10% pay cut in addition to the freeze. The superintendent using teachers jobs as a threat is just as bad as the school district using our children as a bargaining tool. That's as bad as parents using their children as a bargaining tool during a divorce. The fact is there are too many teachers for the school population, there should be a pay cut for administrators and a pay freeze across the board. I am sure that there is a lot of other waste going on. In the private sector many companies have had to have pay freezes, laid off employees and put freezes on pensions, etc. Why should those who are public employees believe that they should be given raises while the rest of the world has to tighten it's belts. The proposed 2.6% increase is still be above the 2% tax cap and should be voted down. TAX CAP means there is a cap. You can not go over the cap - period. To vote to exceed the cap is defeating the purpose of the cap. We need to end the spending frenzy NOW. Put an end to the entitlement mentality that has become the "norm" to so much of society. The status quo abusive entitlement spending is unsustainable. VOTE NO ON THE BUDGET
chefcristo April 06, 2012 at 12:20 AM
who ever declared that paying top administrators, especially superintendents, astronomical salaries including mega perks, gets the best people for the job (s)? we seem to have short memories: do the last initials jog one's memory...H & F? and who hired these wizards? why are (were) these people considered the best available. i wonder how many of our fantastic principals, ap's, dept. heads (those of proven abilities) applied for top administrative positions and obviously were passed over. these are the people who know commack well having been here for a number of years in leadership positions. why is that many of our top administrators are (were) from out of district, some even from out of ny state? MANY QUESTIONS....FEW, IF ANY, VIABLE ANSWERS. sure, pay administrators salaries that even some state governors don't get, and we'll have the best person for the job.....hmm, that somehow that doesn't seem to jibe, and it just doesn't philosophically follow. BOE,think globally, act locally....right from our excellent school district to fill top positions, for a lot less money, an assumption, but a knowledgeable one.
Commack Daddy April 06, 2012 at 01:09 AM
Where are all the nay sayers now? I'm sitting here in the audience waiting for anyone of you big mouths to get up and speak. As I suspected, you are all full of hot air.
Commack Daddy April 06, 2012 at 01:35 AM
Finally. I'll give credit where credit is due. You stood up, whoever you were.
Michael April 06, 2012 at 01:56 AM
Your heart is as big as your mind.
Michael April 06, 2012 at 02:09 AM
Your sarcastic post goes up at 9:09 and the district ended at 9PM. Then came the kids. You must have been itching to hit "submit" so bad you couldnt stand it.
Re April 06, 2012 at 02:24 AM
News 12 shoved a microphone in our face. Did you speak to them? We did. I picked up the line by line budget but it did not list public relations contracts , lawyers, outside consultants so I will be lobbying for a line by line budget.with more details and transparency.At least they admitted a lot of the budget cuts were due to lack of students.
Michael April 06, 2012 at 02:31 AM
True. Can you really hide that enrollment is going down. I found the info about the federal stimulus money curious. They seemd to present that info like it would go on forever and that it was an anomaly that they couldnt include it anymore.
Mr J April 06, 2012 at 03:08 AM
I knew the line by line wouldn't help, they are always loaded with "supplies", " and other"
Taxxed April 06, 2012 at 03:15 AM
Michael - you seem to be good with #'s. Can you explain why if in 2011 they only ACTUALLY SPENT $155 mil why they projected they would need $166 Mil in 2012? And now they project they will need $171 mil
Jim Tampellini April 06, 2012 at 04:38 AM
It was me who stood up and said what needed to be said....
GM April 06, 2012 at 05:07 AM
Teachers are eating their young! 600 or so teachers can save the jobs of those on the block by doing the right thing and accepting a rollback. The teachers are the only ones with the power to do this. I bet they would have a majority voting in favor of this measure. They lose little and gain even greater appreciation from the community that has supported them consistently with raises, great benefits, etc. It's a 2-way street.
chefcristo April 06, 2012 at 10:19 AM
GM. it appears you single out teachers to "doing the right thing and accepting a rollback." why not ALL the beneficiaries of the commack school district's payroll. "it's a 2-way street" for all district employees, not only the most important ones, our teachers.
Michael April 06, 2012 at 12:04 PM
You should run for the Board. Egan is probably the easiest mark there. Peter Wunsch is on the conservative side when it comes to spending. Ive had conversations with him before he was elected, but I dont know his voting record.
Michael April 06, 2012 at 01:27 PM
Salaries and benefits mostly adding to the cost base. What can I say, its a cash guzzling machine.
Taxxed April 06, 2012 at 01:56 PM
Yes John Tomo would you consider running for the board seat that is up this year? Someone needs to announce that they will be running against Guber very soon or it will be too late and we will be stuck with what we have.
Taxxed April 06, 2012 at 02:00 PM
But even after the multi million $ giveaways they are running multi million dollar surpluses every year
Michael April 06, 2012 at 04:08 PM
See ya at the voting booths!!!!
susan r April 07, 2012 at 01:23 PM
So John - would you consider running for school board?? If so, lets get the people on this blog who support you together and make some changes!! There are some wonderful ideas being bantered about I think we need to make them happen!
chefcristo April 07, 2012 at 02:58 PM
I'D VOTE FOR JOHN AND MICHAEL FOR THE SCHOOL BOARD. ARE YOU GUYS READY FOR THAT? C'MON BOYS, GIVE IT A SHOT. ALL "PATCH PEOPLE"......... THOSE IN FAVOR, SHOW YOUR SUPPORT....TELL 'EM TO RUN. THEY HAVE MY VOTE ALREADY!!!!
Mark K April 07, 2012 at 04:58 PM
It amazes me that limited growth in the budget always means draconian cuts in school programs. How is it that 1 or 2 % means so much? Commack Schools are top heavy, teacher heavy and the salaries are way too generous. See for yourself what teachers in this district make http://seethroughny.net/payrolls/ Time to cut.
GM April 07, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Chef- you are right. All should accept a rollback. (I only cited teachers because that is the largest portion of cost and headcount.) Our teachers do a good job but this is not about judgement, this is simply a balance sheet matter. I do find it strange that they use the word UNION to suggest solidarity but when there's an opportunity to share the burden and avoid firings , they offer up the younger members rather than be "unified." Certainly not a "one for all, and all for one" theme going on there. -gmorgan
chefcristo April 07, 2012 at 11:03 PM
gm, i wish you were wrong about the "last in, first out" teachers' scenario. unfortunately, you're not; however i believe that language (or something similar) is written into the union's by-laws, and both older and newer teachers are aware of it. i guess, unfortunately again, it's a save your own ass situation (and solidarity or not, that's the name of the game.)
chefcristo April 07, 2012 at 11:10 PM
.....unfair? yes. practical? reluctantly, yes. however, (not being anywhere near a financial know-it-all) i think a people who are can be creative enough to bring us through this mess without losing any of our (mostly) fantastic teachers...WITHOUT ANY TAX HIKE....ZERO, NONE, FINANCIAL STATUS QUO, ZILCH...you know what i mean!
Taxxed April 08, 2012 at 03:18 AM
If you are for change, go to the new thread http://commack.patch.com/articles/spotlight-informal-hearing-on-170m-budget-7728e72a

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