Reporting Jennifer McLogan
MASTIC BEACH, N.Y. (CBS 2) — There is a new reality for local students, who are getting used to learning with less. CBS 2′s Jennifer McLogan found out about the impact that drastic budget cuts are having on Long Island.
By the skin of their teeth and a handful of votes, the William Floyd School District is able to provide full day kindergarten. However, anxious working parents have been put on notice. Full-day kindergarten and all after school programs may soon be a thing of the past across Long Island.
All 124 districts are reeling from a record island-wide loss of $206 million in state aid for this school year. William Floyd is not alone in eliminating 60 teaching positions.
Said Superintendent Dr. Paul Casciano: “we’ve already cut into muscle, we’re getting close to the bone,” referring to the cuts.
Casciano is using all his skills to make it work. There are now fewer teachers, bigger classes, shorter schedules, losses of course electives, career training, computer technology, art, music, sports. He even had to cut instrumental music for grades 3 through 5.
Ninth grade sports teams are out, merging with junior varsity. Some are too intimidated to even try out.
“It’s very hard because some kids get discouraged about whether they’re not going to make the team or whether they’re going to play or not,” 9th grader Anthony Romero told McLogan.
Locals in the area fear further downsizing. Next year, the state will clamp a 2 percent cap on property tax increases.
“It’s just scary. It just feels like our expectations for our students keep getting higher as the funds go lower,” William Floyd teacher Kim Bahr said.
The Long Island Education Coalition found cuts affect poor and middle-class communities like William Floyd to a greater extent, because the property tax base is lower.
“At the elementary school level, we had to get rid of all the clubs. A lot of the schools are trying to do funding on their own to try to give their kids back some of the things. But it’s very hard in this economy, all the parents are struggling financially,” said parent Lorraine Mentz.
Some veteran strategic planners say Long Islanders need to think seriously about consolidating school districts if they want to save money in the long run.
Do you think Long Island districts need to consolidate? Share your thoughts in the comments section…