Carney: More state aid means fewer layoffs for Riverhead

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | Riverhead High School on Harrison Avenue.

Due to an increase in state aid, the Riverhead school district will be able to retain “at least two” of the teachers and teaching assistants who were told in February they would be out of a job next school year to cut costs, school officials said Monday.

Superintendent Nancy Carney said the 5.59 percent increase in state education aid from last year’s total is more than $268,000 more than the district had planned for when drafting its 2012-13 school year budget.

In January, Governor Andrew Cuomo had proposed to increase the school’s state aid by just 3.88 percent.

The district has had to cut $3.4 million from next year’s budget to keep the district within the state-mandated tax levy cap, which limits the amount of taxpayer money the district can collect at a 1.73 percent increase from year-to-year.

The district handed out pink slips to 12 teachers and nine teaching assistants from across the district in mid-February to save Riverhead schools about $1.9 million. Among those cut were two elementary school teachers, two private special education teachers, one middle school English teacher, one middle school guidance counselor, one technology teacher, one high school science teacher, one high school math teacher, one middle school health teacher, and one high school home and careers teacher.

But now, some of those teachers will return thanks to the unexpected increase in funds from the state, though which teachers will be brought back hasn’t been discussed, Ms. Carney said.

“The specific decisions as to which staff members will be restored to the budget has not yet been reached, but I am pleased that our staffing and instructional cuts will not be as severe as originally envisioned,” Ms. Carney said Monday. “We think that the fund will allow us to bring back at least two teachers.”

Ms. Carney is planning to make a recommendation soon to the school board, which will make a final decision.

In February, the superintendent said the cuts to faculty would lead to bigger class sizes. She said that while the district doesn’t want to have larger classes, “with the provisions of the new tax cap levy law, larger class sizes are an unfortunate reality.”

No programs would be cut due to the layoffs, though some classes like home and careers in the high school, will be offered less often.

Check this week’s Riverhead News Review for more information.

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