SWR superintendent outlines what could happen under contingency plan

Shoreham-Wading River school superintendent Harriet Copel gave a presentation during the budget workshop portion of Tuesday’s school board meeting outlining what could happen if voters reject the budget proposal this spring, forcing the district to operate under a state-mandated contingency budget for 2011-12.

The district operated with a contingency for two of the last five years, so it’s a sore subject as the school board and Dr. Copel work on a the 2011-12 budget proposal for voters.

Some parents at the meeting asked Dr. Copel and board members why they were exploring the impacts of a contingency budget now, before the board had even presented a budget proposal.

Board member Mike Fucito responded that the state requires school boards to prepare contingency budgets.

In her presentation, Dr. Copel said that if the district has to work with a contingency budget, 13 full-time employees at Shoreham-Wading River High School and Prodell Middle School might have to be laid off to save the district $930,000. Those savings would make up a large portion of the nearly $1.5 million cutback the district would face under a contingent budget, Dr. Copel said. She listed a range of departments and programs at the middle and high schools that could be subject to layoffs.

“We’re at the point where there are just no good cuts,” Dr. Copel said during the meeting.

Also Tuesday night, technology specialist Sally Neumann presented her budget request, asking for a 5.39 percent spending increase over this year’s $810,445 technology budget for computer-assisted instruction.

Ms. Neumann said her request for $36,836 for equipment, more than three times this year’s $10,000 allocation, was due to needed upgrades and replacements and additional digital cameras, document cameras, wireless controllers, projectors and smart boards.

She recommended that the district replace 617, or 76 percent, of its computers, saying many are between seven and 11 years old.
Tuesday’s budget workshop was the sixth in a series of 12.

During the next budget workshop, set for Tuesday, March 22, school officials will make presentations on fringe benefits, insurance, technology, administration and operations, auditing and legal services, and debt service.

The board is scheduled to adopt a budget at its April 5 meeting, and the district school budget vote is May 17.

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