S. Huntington schools OK $140.3M budget

The South Huntington school board approved a $140.3-million budget for 2011-12 Wednesday night that carries a 5.91 percent property-tax rate increase.

The budget salvages middle-school sports, which will be paid for with reserve funds, but scraps three high school varsity teams and 62 jobs. The district is getting $25.3 million in state aid for the 2011-2012 school year. The adopted budget is 1.29 percent larger than the current year's budget.

Residents packed Wednesday night's meeting at Stimson Middle School; there was no session for public comments. The adopted budget calls for reducing about 62 positions districtwide, including about 17 teachers, 30 paraprofessionals, four administrative staffers, eight custodians and two clerical workers.

Leftover federal stimulus money from this year has been earmarked for two social-work positions, two guidance counselors, the alternative high school program and contingency staff positions.

The nine-period day at Walt Whitman High School has been reduced to eight, along with elimination of the high school video newsroom, junior varsity kick line, and the bowling, golf and swim teams.

At the middle school, extracurricular activities such as the color guard, mathletes, the multicultural club and the school bookstore will be eliminated.

The administrators' union has agreed to a two-year salary freeze and additional contributions to their health insurance. So far, the other unions -- for teachers and paraprofessionals -- have not come to agreement with the district for givebacks.

The paraprofessional union said it would not offer a giveback this year because members gave one last year.

The meeting kicked off with Superintendent Thomas Shea asking the teachers' union to take a pay freeze in exchange for no teacher layoffs, restoring the daily ninth period at the high school, all sports at the middle and high school, and extracurricular activities.

But union president Dennis Callahan called the offer an attempt at "union busting." He told the board they should accept the "gift" of the $1.2 million in givebacks the union offered last week and presented an oversized check for that amount as students held up signs and egged the crowd on.

Ultimately, Callahan rejected the district's offer.

The community will vote on the budget May 17.

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