Teacher layoffs, raises in Central Islip

Central Islip Senior High School on Wheeler Road. Central Islip Senior High School on Wheeler Road. (April 13, 2011) Photo Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

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More than 85 Central Islip school employees -- the majority of them teachers -- would be laid off next year under the district's proposed budget, while the average teacher salary will rise by 9 percent, district officials said.

The $176-million budget adopted earlier this week by the board of education calls for a 6.57 percent tax increase that would raise the average homeowner's bill by $500.

Residents will vote on the budget May 17.

Superintendent Craig Carr called the situation "devastating" and said the district is trying to figure out how many and which teachers would be let go.

Carr said the teachers union, whose members are due the 9 percent raise as part of an ongoing 10-year contract, isn't "sharing" in the district's economic hardships. Union officials denied that.

Teachers in 18 Long Island districts have agreed to pay freezes either in this school year or the next.

The average Central Islip teacher makes about $100,000, Carr said. State data show the median salary in the school district falls in the middle of the Island's 124 districts. The top bracket is higher paid than all but 10 districts. This year, teacher salaries top off at $150,918. In 2015, when the contract ends, the cap will be $173,848.

"Without any concessions from the teachers union there aren't any options," said Nancy Manfredonia, executive director of the Central Islip Civic Council. "People in this community are losing jobs, taking pay cuts, taking furloughs. . . . The union needs to get real."

Robert Molinaro, president of Central Islip Teachers Association, said the union offered several concessions including salary givebacks. "We've put offers on the table, but not to the district's liking," he said.

Molinaro said the 9 percent figure was "inaccurate" but would not specify the increase. He said teachers will receive a 3.6 percent contractual raise and, if eligible, step increases.

"Wall Street and Albany cutting school funding" created the district's economic problems, he said, not teachers' pay.

Carr also noted the recent $5-million cut in state aid, but maintained the union bears some responsibility for layoffs. "The union has control over the salaries," he said. "They can choose to share that salary and bring some teachers back."

Carr said the layoffs would drive average class sizes to 40 to 45 students. Averages for the district in 2009-10 for the limited number of classes listed in state data ranged from 14 to 26, before last year's layoff of 60 teachers.

Next year, "services will be much fewer" and sports such as volleyball and track and field might be eliminated, Carr said. He added that the budget preserved most music programs and half-day kindergarten.

Resident Moneik Hatcher, who has five children in the district, said, "The impact on a lot of families is dreadful. It's more so about saving the community. . . . They're strangling us."

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