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Proposed School Budget Cuts Change After Public Input

See what co-curricular activities will be funded, which are on the chopping block with the latest edition of the proposed 2012-13 budget.

Commack school officials have changed up what's on the chopping block in the 2012-13 school year after a series of public input sessions. 

The proposed $170M budget presented by Superintendent Donald James at the April 5 informal budget hearing has substantially changed since its first presentation on March 8. The district is still proposing to cut nearly $4.5 million in staff and programs, the lists of what's staying and what's going have changed. 

"Everything we have in our programs would require a 6.3 percent raise. That's a number that's not acceptable to our community. A matter of debate is what is acceptable," James said. "The Board of Education has settled on a 2.6 percent increase. We need to make some reductions. We simply don't have the money to spend. 

On March 15, Commack school officials presented their detailed recommendations for what co-curricular activities and clubs should be cut to go towards $700,000 in saving. Those clubs first recommended to be discontinued at Commack High School included Mock Trial, Debate Team, Best Buds, Computer Science Club, Math Honor Society, Science Honor Society, English Honor Society, Technology Honor Society and New York State Business and Marketing Honor Society. 

Parents at the April 5 informal budget might have been surprised to find all the clubs listed above are no longer on the chopping block. They have been funded for the 2012-13 school. 

The 14 high school clubs school officials now propose to cut at Commack High School under the 2012-13 budget includes: 

  • ICA Stage Band
  • Peer Leadership
  • Warped Sci-Fi Magazine
  • Math Magazine
  • Glamour Gasl
  • International Thespian Society
  • Young Democrats
  • Young Republicans
  • Grandfriends
  • Future Health Professionals
  • Bible Club
  • Hebrew Club
  • Peer Mediation
  • Stagecraft

The superintendent defended the administration's new list of proposed cuts last Thursday evening before parents and students. 

"The determination of which clubs were cut was based on enrollment and students participation," James said. 

The five clubs propsoed to be discontinued at Commack Middle School are:

  • Fitness Club
  • Guitar Ensemble
  • Scrapbook Club
  • Stage Band
  • Treble Singers

Two girls stood up to thank the superintendent and Board of Education deciding to restore funding in the 2012-13 budget to the Best Buds club, stating that the clubs allows many disabled students to have a change to make friendships and step into leadership roles that that otherwise often don't have a chance at in other co-curricular activities. There are more than 100 Best Bud members at the middle school. 

Other noticible changes included the restoration of 1 administrative staff member and two secretarorial jobs, citing the district has "nearly completed agreement for concessions." 

James announced he would be taking a pay freeze, along with other central administrative staff, at the March 15 budget workshop. 

The district is still proposing to. James said the district remains in active negotiations with all units to avoid layoffs. 

Hexagon Kay April 10, 2012 at 12:59 AM
Maybe they could also cut all the honor societies and just have one..... http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/01/education/01honors.html I mean---all these clubs are just excessive!!!! Do we really need a Bible club or a Hebrew club? If a student wants to learn more about the BIble, there are churches all over Commack--and synagogues for Hebrew clubs. Why do these clubs even exist? However, why are they cutting clubs that provide services to senior citizens (ie. the Glamour Gals and Grandfriends)? Is this a deliberate attempt by the school board to punish seniors because they believe that senior citizens will vote the budget down? I say freeze salaries, consolidate positions in the administration (do we need a director of Math, a director of Science, a director of Athletics, etc.). All of these directors are quite overpaid and their positions could easily be consolidated...... For example, Amy Ryan is the Assistant Supt of Pupil Personnel Svcs and earned 179K last year. She has an assistant, Nina Bryant, who earned almost 150K last year. Why? There are only 7800 students in the district. Why does she need such a highly paid assistant? Perhaps that assistant position could be eliminated and the savings could go to save these clubs and a couple of teachers. Why are they only cutting teaching positions? CUT ADMINISTRATION!!!! It is this type of reckless management that leaves Commack residents feeling so alienated from the SD and its goings on.
Hexagon Kay April 10, 2012 at 01:59 AM
And I just want to add--after a little bit of research, I found out that the enrollment in Commack Schools has plummeted in the past few years. In 2009, there were 7,830 students in the Commack schools In 2011, there were 7,509 students--a drop of 321 students! https://reportcards.nysed.gov/files/2010-11/AOR-2011-580410030000.pdf With declining enrollment, why do we need so many administrators? Why can't their jobs be consolidated. I also noticed on that report that in 2009, there were 618 teachers in the CSD, but in 2011, there were 563--an almost 9 percent drop. So, why are taxes still rising? What's going on? I think it is time to cut some fat from the Commack SD administration....fewer teachers, fewer students and fewer classes should also yield fewer administrators.
susan r April 16, 2012 at 05:40 PM
You are right on the money Kay!! Why can't people see the ridiculous waster that is going on!!!

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