Central Islip school officials issued layoff notices to 154 teachers Friday and warned that proposed cuts in state aid could mean elimination of all sports, after-school clubs and even kindergarten.
Superintendent Craig Carr said the layoffs would go into effect June 30. His district, with about 600 faculty members, is slated to lose $5.7 million in state aid and has $1.5 million in reserves. Carr said Central Islip laid off 156 people last year.
"My question to the governor is that we low-wealth districts -- he promised he would not harm us. Districts with little reserve funds -- he promised not to harm us. Where is he?" Carr said.
The district's action comes as legislative leaders in Albany are working to reach agreement on the state budget, and several other Long Island districts are contemplating teacher layoffs. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has proposed cutting education spending by $1.5 billion, though there was movement Friday toward restoring $250 million of that.
Longtime Central Islip resident Amparo Sadler, a board member of the statewide Alliance for Quality Education, was irate about the layoff notices.
"This would completely destroy the community, not just the district," she said. "How can we not have a good education for our kids?"
"Governor Cuomo has said that every level of government must cut spending and protect taxpayers, including school districts," said Morris Peters, spokesman for the Division of Budget. "Central Islip Public Schools spend about 35 percent more per pupil than the statewide average, and the executive budget proposal reduces the district's funding by less than 3 percent of total spending. Final budget negotiations are continuing with the Legislature, but everyone will have to adjust to our new fiscal reality."
In May, Central Islip voters approved a $171-million budget with a 7.57-percent tax increase. That included teacher layoffs, the loss of all middle school sports and junior varsity sports, and a cutback of full-day kindergarten to half-day.
New York State United Teachers president Richard C. Iannuzzi, a longtime teacher in Central Islip, said Friday that "this is a tragic blow. To know that in Albany they are more worried about an on-time budget than one that is fair and equitable is very discouraging."
Central Islip Teachers Association president Robert Molinaro called for an extension of the millionaire's tax, a surcharge on higher-earning New Yorkers. "They need to protect our kids and not millionaires," he said.