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BOE Weighing Cuts As Budget Deadline Approaches

Eight period day at middle schools, furloughs among the items trustees are reviewing as April 17 deadline looms.

Facing a $1.7 million budget gap, the West Islip Board of Education must now make a final decision on budget cuts that one trustee called “the least of all evils.”

Among the major items up for consideration is shifting to an eight period day at the middle school level and implementing two furlough days in the 2013-14 school year. Those items alone would result in a cost savings of $1.322 million. In addition, board trustees also are reviewing a list of smaller cuts to other program areas.

With the proposed spending plan needing to be approved by April 17, board president Steve Gellar said trustees must now “make the cuts required to bring the budget in under the tax cap.”

During his opening remarks at Monday’s budget work session, Gellar noted that board has been in discussion with the teacher’s union seeking some contractual concessions in an effort to close the budget gap and possibly spare the district of some cuts.

“The board is still in discussion with the teacher’s union…but there is nothing positive to report at this time,” he said. “The teachers are unwilling to commit to a plan that will preserve both jobs and educational opportunities.”

Through the budget formation process that began publicly in February, board members and administrators were hopeful that additional state aid and the issue of pension smoothing would help reduce the financial burden facing the school district.

Gellar noted that the additional $150,000 in state aid West Islip will receive coupled with the resolution of the pension smoothing issue did little to close a budget gap that had been nearly $2 million.

This year, West Islip’s pension costs are rising $3 million, a figure that is set by the state. School officials were hopeful that a small decrease in the percentage the school district would be required to pay to the pension system would provide some relief.

However, the plan approved by state lawmakers was of no financial help to the school district, and in fact, would cause more financial pain in the years ahead, school officials said.

One area of concern for some residents in attendance at Monday’s budget work session was the projected classes size at the fourth and fifth grade level in some schools for the coming school year.

At Paul J. Bellew, the average class size in fourth grade will be 26.25 students while fifth grade will be 26.6 students. Bayview’s fifth grade average class size will be 25.3 students and Manetuck’s fourth grade class size will average 25 students.

While board of education members were in agreement with residents that they would like to see these class sizes lower, adding four sections to lower the average class sizes would cost more than $300,000.  

However, Superintendent Richard Simon, said the average class sizes at the three schools fall within recommended levels. He noted that guidelines in the current teacher’s contract allow for an average of between 24 and 27 students at the fourth and fifth grade level.

The next board of education meeting is set for Wednesday, April 17, 8 p.m. at the high school. Trustees will adopt the proposed budget that will then go before voters on Super Tuesday, May 21.

A video of Monday’s meeting is now available on the school district’s website.

bradley April 13, 2013 at 12:46 AM
No but they will give WI a big IB discount, wont they ? don't worry just close your eyes it's like a bad dream. It doesn't matter what we say here this forum is strictly for entertainment only and don't forget that !
wilax13 April 13, 2013 at 01:30 AM
Thank you for the luck!
wilax13 April 13, 2013 at 01:44 AM
Okay, so Maria answer this for me, if you have no problem standing up for yourself, than why get your husband involved? If you couldn't handle the comments back to you calling us Bay Shore kids "outsiders" than you shouldn't have said it in the first place. And also as a senior, and going through what our school went through with Lexi Pilkington's suicide because of bullying, I do find it very offensive because although maybe you don't think so, but calling us "outsiders" is bullying. With all that we went through you would think that people in this town would consider what they say before they say it especially to kids. And by the way, your kids and other Westbrook students were not the only ones affected. Children in Oquenock were just as affected as Westbrook kids. Not only are there more kids in the school and classes and less attention from the teachers because of more kids, but they have to adapt to new kids in their school. They're school was turned upside down with new teachers, a new principal and new classmates. How do you think those kids felt? So, I personally don't think it's right for you to say that only a few of WI residents were affected. The ENTIRE town was affected. If we as residents or you as parents who are grown adults can't get over this issue than this town has bigger problems in it's hands. All I'm looking for on be half of us Bay Shore kids and myself is for Maria to admit that she said something she shouldn't have said and apologize. That's all.
eve April 13, 2013 at 11:41 AM
Sounds good to me and I agree a 100 percent. Hard to beleve how people dont think before they post something so rude in calling us bay shore people outsiders. You sound like a very mature young lady and im proud of you sticking up for your town.
pampatriot April 13, 2013 at 12:46 PM
Please, I know that Maria was insulting, but her insult was not a form of bullying. Let's not portray every situation in that light, Maria doesn't deserve to be placed in a category with mean and bratty children on springform. That's a stretch. Everything else you said was 100% right on, and as a compassionate, bright, young lady, I have no doubt that you can forgive a slight against you by a frustrated tax payer who definitely didn't think before she made that ridiculous comment. Good luck in all your endeavors going forward into your future, we always need stand up individuals like yourself in this world Thanks for being a voice of reason that we can all be proud of!
pampatriot April 13, 2013 at 01:38 PM
Mr. von Trapp, your wife has a ficticious name. No one knows her true identity. So it's absolutely silly for you to puff out your chest and go all Knight in Shining Armor on everyone for her sake. She wasn't a damsel in distress, she made a dumb comment. It's silly that if you are for real you would want to meet someone at Westbrook to defend your wives honor, she is fiction, she has no honor. If someone wanted to meet you at Westbrook, should we look for you dressed in a Captains uniform and carrying a guitar? BTW, if we all took the position you have, do you realize how many meetings my own husband would be having with Jack Latch? lol, it's sillyness! You've got to be able to stand the heat if you want to be in the kitchen, that's all, no big deal. Have a great day.
Wendy Regan April 13, 2013 at 03:26 PM
As a follow up to the questions/comments (the questions were left unanswered of course!) posed to the BOE about the IB program remaining untouched while many other programs that benefit a greater number of students in our district are being cut, I’d like to share some very telling results which emerged from the on-line district study. The Freedom of Information Law (and the district’s information officer) have provided me with a copy of the results, and they are as follows: Of the 1198 people who took the survey 415 people feel that the IB Program is not important enough to preserve and another 388 people said it’s good but not essential enough to keep. So 803 people of the 1198 ( 67%!) who took the survey don’t think the IB Program should remain in the district. Only 168 people (14%) of the 1198 people who participated in the survey think the IB Program is essential and critical and the remaining 226 people (19%) said it’s very important. The results are simple: 67% said get rid of the IB Program and 33% said keep the IB Program. You might be asking yourself why the BOE is (once again) ignoring the wishes of an overwhelming majority of the residents of WI . You might be asking yourself why the BOE is keeping the IB Program and the expense of the IB program despite the wishes of 67%. Perhaps those questions can be answered simply by knowing how many of the BOE’s own children will be sitting in IB “seats” next year.
Mary Beth April 13, 2013 at 04:21 PM
LOL are you kidding me "ignoring the wishes of an overwhelming majority of the residents of WI" Less than 1200 people took the survey.
pampatriot April 13, 2013 at 04:58 PM
You're right Mary Beth, of the overwhelming majority of the residents (including teachers) who took the survey, 67% said get rid of IB, and your point is? Maybe you don't like the survey results, but I am willing to wager that if the results were 67% in favor, you'de be singing a different tune.
Mary Beth April 13, 2013 at 05:05 PM
My point is that the survey is NOT an indication of what the majority of WI Residents want. The majority of WI Residents did not even take the survey and yes, I think the survey was a waste of time.
wilax13 April 13, 2013 at 10:24 PM
Thank you eve and pampatriot! I was just trying to stand up for what I think is right and what I believe in. When I feel passionately about something I will support and defend it to the highest extent! This is one town and we need to be united and come together and work together in times like these.I want people from neighboring towns to be jealous that they don't live in as great a town as West Islip! That's why we need to work together instead of pointing fingers, and everything will go so much smoother and easier.
Rich April 13, 2013 at 11:02 PM
And for the record, how many people actually voted for Mr. Gellert in the last BOE election?
WIGIRL April 13, 2013 at 11:17 PM
Stalking High School Kids?
Nomo Bigelow April 14, 2013 at 01:40 AM
A lot more than the tea-party lunatic that ran against him.....for the record.
pampatriot April 14, 2013 at 11:20 AM
That tea-party lunatic wouldn't be crying about state mandates to the community and just how much he's been working to effect relief ever since he got here like Geller did, but then while crying to the community about state mandates, PURCHASE a duplicate product that costs the district hundreds of thousands to start up, and thousands and thousands more to keep. The state didn't MANDATE the IB programme, the BOE and administraton PURCHASED the IB program while at the same time crying about these unfair, costly state mandates every time they turn around. Boohoo, INSOLVENCY...(okay then, cut a non mandated duplicate program sir.) Boohoo, we're in an UNTENABLE SITUATION....(okay then, but the IB program sir) Boohoo, unless the system changes to how schools are organized...Boohoo...there are other districts who have declared BANKRUPTCY....(okay then sir, cut a non mandate programme like IB sir,which we pay scores of tax payer dollars to Geneva Switerland, and keep our tax dollars here in the USA, in West Islip, to support our IN HOUSE programs for students, get them off the chopping block, for ELIMINATION, or stop the fake crying! Yeah, doubt the tea-party guy would have made those decisons. BTW, many of these BOE members have been there for quite some time. One has been there for 15 years, although he's getting out. I feel like the community has a share in the blame for why our district is in the hole again, we keep voting to keep these people who aren't fixing anything!
Walter Isaacs April 14, 2013 at 11:55 AM
Well nomo, it is clear pam not only drinks the tea but would swallow the whole bag. She made excuses for Mrs. Von Trapp, but quite the vigorous defense for the has been blogger and past candidate. She even knows how he would decide concerning issues facing us. It seems like it is time to pull back the curtain.
pampatriot April 14, 2013 at 12:07 PM
Oh, look who crawled out from the woodwork and just in time too, good morning Al Gore wanna be ISSACS. What happened, were you signaled out of your slumber on the Ohhh Noooo's....ALERT, ALERT, protect the cronies...warning warning danger danger... Again, like all your comments, nothing of substance, the usual verbal daggers, and you had an issue with Maria von Trapp? You people are so full of double standards it's incredible. So yeah Gore/Issacs I was explaining the absolute HYPOCRACY to on the one hand cry a river about state mandates and how oppressive they are for our financial welfare, (we have no control waaawaaaa) but what they do have control over is ADDING to our financial woes by ADDING a non-mandate product. Are you getting any of that COMMON SENSE information yet? If you're a BOE member and you refuse to cut the IB product, while complaining about state mandates we can't even afford, YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM, PERIOD!~
Wendy Regan April 14, 2013 at 12:54 PM
@MaryBeth: No, not kidding at all. THANK YOU! You’ve proven the point that I’ve been making for quite some time: After the budget and boe votes are counted the spin-doctors of our town boast that “the overwhelming majority of WI has spoken”. When the fact is that very few WI residents even bother to vote for the school budget or a boe candidate. The district’s on-line survey is the same thing, no? Although ten times as many people in WI are ABLE to cast their budget/boe vote and ten times as many people in WI were ABLE to take the district’s on-line survey they just simply didn’t bother. I’m sure when the results of the survey are IGNORED by the district they will use that very reason….only 1198 people took the survey. Had the results of the survey indicated that 67% of those who took the survey wanted to keep the IB program, you can bet that WI’s Patch would have run a cover story on it and there would have been a robo-call from the district announcing a great big I-told-you-so! MaryBeth, I agree with you that the survey was a waste of time for residents as well as for district personnel. I’d like to know how much money the district on-line survey has cost us, you know since the district is on the brink of financial insolvency and all.
Wendy Regan April 14, 2013 at 01:08 PM
Regarding this article, specifically the detail of cramming 27 5th graders into a classroom next year Mr.Simon stated: “the average class sizes at all 3 elementary schools fall within recommended levels”. Sorry for being so obtuse, but “recommended”? Recommended by whom? Does Simon mean according to the teachers’ contract? If so, the teachers’ contract states a specific number of students as the highest/maximum amount of students in a class. I would hardly call cramming 27 elementary kids in a classroom a “recommendation” made by the WI teachers or by the teachers’ union. Let’s be thankful there’s a clause in the teachers’ contract that states a specific number of students as the maximum. If not for that clause our BOE would probably close another elementary school and cram 60 kids into every elementary classroom and tell us that it’s “In the best interest of education”.
pampatriot April 14, 2013 at 01:51 PM
The take away for me is this. Less is more. Less students in a classroom, means more teacher to student attention. Less administration means more money in the district for the students. Less raise increases and stipends means more money in the district for our students to enjoy. Less non mandated programs means more money in the district for in house programs to remain. Less bloviating and empty complaining from the BOE and admin. means more accountability for the way they spend our money, rather than spending it on the Jaquar Xj , when we can only afford a Ford, and especially since we have a gorgeous Cadillac parked in the driveway already.
West Islip Resident April 14, 2013 at 07:12 PM
When are we going to start protesting in front of the BOE and Superintendent houses. Then maybe they will get the point that we are not happy with their performance.
West Islip Resident April 14, 2013 at 07:13 PM
Lets set a date and location.
Missy April 14, 2013 at 07:22 PM
Maria - I marvel at the depths to which your ignorance sinks. The blocks that you are referring to have been a part of West Islip School District for more than 50 years. Those blocks have always been a part of the district the difference in zip code has to do with the post office and mail delivery only. Your children have no more right to be in the West Islip School District than anyone elses. It's a good thing that you go on here under an alias this way nobody will be able to put a face with the moronic comments that you post on patch.
Missy April 14, 2013 at 07:33 PM
Pam - I just watched the video of the Budget meeting from April 8. I specifically heard Mr. Gellar say that he was talking about other districts. He specified that he was NOT referencing West Islip. PS - I don't believe that a "budget" can head into insolvency.. You should have written a correction to your erroneous statement.
Missy April 14, 2013 at 07:39 PM
You believe that everyone should have been effected but make sure you specify the people with the Bay Shore mailing addresses. Are people with Bay Shore mailing addresses but West Islip School District tax payers less deserving of the school district but more deserving to feel the effects of change? Basically that is what you said. See below this is what you wrote... "And most of these outsider children weren't even affected when the 2 elementary schools closed. They got to remain in the same building. Wrong,wrong,wrong!" Outsider Children? What a jerk!
pampatriot April 14, 2013 at 08:08 PM
Our budget may be heading into insolvency, we are paying out more than we take in. He was alluding to the conditions of every school district, stating these issues that West Islip faces are not just ours alone. He said it's an untenable situation. Any way you slice it Missy, these are cries from our BOE that mandates are making it difficult to balance the budget. IB is not a state mandate, cut it out! That's all, simple. If they are going to cry about ever since they got on the BOE they have been trying to effect mandate relief, back it up with getting rid of non-mandates first, in other words, put up or shut up.
Walter Isaacs April 14, 2013 at 08:33 PM
Facts are facts and the fact of the matter is that we need to start electing some people to the Board who want to actually start looking out for the tax payers and the students. A Tea party candidate who believes in limited government, who believes that public sector unions could care less about the plight of the taxpayers, who would not rubber stamp with a yes vote every single raise and stipend increase, who would fight to eliminate the ridiculous and redundant IB program and who would actually have some fresh new ideas as opposed to the excuse ridden tax and spend Board we have been saddled with for years, would be a welcome change. Turns out that Tea party candidate last year was right about a lot of things.
Walter Isaacs April 14, 2013 at 09:07 PM
@the fake Walter Isaacs it is a shame you would seek to impersonate me and sully my reputation. Facts are what Facts are and the Tea Party xenophobic tax evading/avoiding candidate would have been a disaster for this district. It says quite a bit when his supporters, if that is your relationship to him, resort to impersonating someone to say that he was right about a lot of things. Just saying, next time you see him you may want to ask him if he knows anything about puffery.
Walter Isaacs April 16, 2013 at 10:56 PM
The District is almost $2 million in the hole this year, after being over $6 million in the hole last year (and the subsequent cutting of services to our students, particularly the most vulnerable and youngest with the closing of two elementary schools) mostly because our BOE over the years has chosen to be fiscally irresponsible with the raises and perks it has granted to District employees. Know what is disastrous for this District? Not someone who ran for a seat on the Board but did not win, oh no... the disaster has been right there with our own BOE and their wanton spending with utter disregard for the taxpayers of this town. I also seem to recall another Walter around here, as well as some other hysterical residents, who were very upset when a community member posted videos of the BOE meeting on youtube back in the fall but suddenly they are silent when the Board itself posts the videos now. Where's the outrage now? Hypocrites. I seem to recall that it was that candidate who ran and lost last year that had that as one of his central campaign ideas. That is to make the meetings accessible to those who could not attend. Kudos to the BOE for finally doing it, even if it happened only after they realized that people were going to do it anyway either with their support or not.
Walter Isaacs April 16, 2013 at 10:57 PM
So "Nomo", fake "Walter", and all the "Rest" of you hysterical, name calling, fear mongering bullies...your biased stupidity is glaring through right now as we watch our students suffer with yet another failed budget fueled by struggling residents on the backs of our kids. You have chosen to defend the status quo by denigrating and insulting those with a different view thereby exposing yourselves as the ideologue(s) you are. Meanwhile our town suffers, I mean my town (because God knows where you really live), suffers yet again.

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