Shoreham-Wading River considering a bump in social worker salaries

COLLEEN MAIDHOF PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River superintendent Harriet Copel urged the Board of Education to hire a new social worker at a budget workshop Thursday night.

Shoreham-Wading River’s director of student services William Bushman pleaded with the district’s board of education to increase its social worker budget by $15,000 next school year, even as state aid cuts loom.

The recommendation came during a special budget workshop Thursday night.

Shoreham-Wading River currently has two social workers in the district, including one contracted from an outside agency. But state law now requires district’s to employ their own social workers, school officials said.

With nearly $1 million in state aid cuts coming down the pipe, Mr. Bushman worried that the position may not be included in the district’s 2011-12 budget.

“Because the social workers are not mandated, we don’t have to have them,” he said. “That is an area that could be cut.”

Superintendent Harriet Copel urged the board to hire a social worker at the additional cost, especially since disciplinary issues have increased this school year and they have required extensive counseling.

Board president Jack Costas said that if the social worker salary was added to the final budget proposal, the increased salary of social workers would likely be shifted to taxpayers.

“The only place left after state aid is the tax levy,” he said.

Mr. Bushman said the additional cost would be “money well spent,” as the loss of one social worker would be devastating to the district.

Board president Jack Costas concurred.

“You’re talking about something that’s vital,” Mr. Costas told “You can’t take away a service, especially for kids that might have emotional problems, might have suicidal tendencies.”

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