WYANDANCH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The cash-strapped Wyandanch School District is in the midst of laying off scores of teachers, administrators, security guards and bus drivers. But what will it all mean to the schoolchildren this fall?
CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan has more on the budget battle.
It’s a summer of uncertainty for many Wyandanch families, as back to school approaches.
“We’re not going get to like learn as much if there are more kids in the classroom,” high school junior Cheyanne Moses said.
Academic performance had been on the rise, but is predicted to fall with drastic cuts across the board and pupil class sizes growing. Fourth grader Yanelli Serviano told McLogan there were 21 students in his class this past year, but she has no idea how many he’ll see come September.
“There’s no room for the children we have now, let alone six or seven extra per class,” said Scott O’Brien-Curcie, president of the Wyandanch Teacher Union. “Thirty-two is projected. It’s just not fair to the kids.”
Wyandanch is reducing staff to deal with a growing budget deficit, blamed by some on administrative mismanagement and nepotism.
McLogan offered condolences to 14-year Wyandanch school employee Robert Bryant, who responded, “Yeah, I am, but those others who lost their jobs, I am sorry for them, too, my co-workers.”
“Some teachers were very good, so I don’t think that’s fair,” high school sophomore Nevaeh Green said.
Wyandanch is the poorest district in Suffolk County, but is the fastest growing in the state.
“We are totally underfunded,” Wyandanch Schools spokesman Nathan Jackson said, adding when asked about an influx of immigrant children, “That’s one of the major problems. Because of that we had to take some drastic measures.”
“It’s frustrating for everybody — the kids, the parents and then they’re not having buses,” parent Dealtha McIntosh said.
A state monitor for Wyandanch with audit and veto powers was approved in Albany by the full Legislature during closing hours last month. The measure was co-sponsored by Sen. John Brooks, with bipartisan support.
“We’re in a crisis here and we’ve got a very short time. It’s July. Schools are going to open in September,” Brooks said.
Brooks is advocating for shared services agreements with neighboring school districts to help Wyandanch dig out of its huge hole.
The governor is expected to approve the state monitor for Wyandanch in the coming weeks and sign the bill into law.