Long Island Schools Budget for Fiscal Year 2008 May Not Go to Voters

Written by Jason Thomas for www.schoolsk-12.com

The Long Island schools’ Up-Island district was charged with trimming its proposed budget by $450,000. The West Tisbury Finance Committee (FinCom) voted at the end of January not to recommend the Long Island schools budget to the voters of the Up-Island school district. FinCom opposed the increased funding request of 3.82 percent during a period of declining student enrollment at the district’s Chilmark School. FinCom also requested such budget cuts from another Long Island schools district  — Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School District.
 
Long Island schools’ Up-Island superintendent James Weiss and the school committee agreed to review their proposed budget to look for possible reductions. They were able to reduce the original proposed budget by $109,600, but stated that further reductions would significantly impact needed school programs and services. Of the cut by the Long Island schools district, $37,077 was for the Chilmark School and included such items as conferences, workshops, undistributed supplies, and maintenance. The Long Island schools district committee approved the revised budget three-to-one at the end of February with one member absent. Jeffrey Manter cast the one dissenting vote, stating that he had a “lot of issues” with how the Long Island schools district operates. He feels this affects the bottom line in a negative manner, and the Up-Island district needs to change their approach to be more cost effective.
 
Susan Parker, chairman of the Long Island schools Up-Island district, told the Martha Vineyard Times that the committee came close to the requested reduction of $450,000. She noted that the proposed budget includes $140,000 for the purchase of school buses, which will be offset by excess and deficiency funds. With the new reduction of $109,600 and the $140,000 for buses, there is a total reduction of $249,600, leaving $200,400 remaining of the requested reduction by FinCom. Parker then noted that $92,000 in the budget is for the residential care tuition of a Chilmark student, which the Long Island schools district is required to pay. Though she did not state that this required payment is offset by other funding, Parker does believe that there now is only a little over $100,000 of the requested reduction not met by the committee.
 
Parker further said that despite a declining enrollment in her Long Island schools district, costs continue to rise, especially the special education costs. She stated that an investment in early education programs are preventative in nature and necessary to offset future educational costs to the Long Island schools district. An after-school homework club for third graders, for example, has resulted in many of these students no longer needing special education services. Such intense early interventions make a very big difference later on in terms of costs for the Long Island schools district. Parker said it would be irresponsible to make any additional budget cuts.
 
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