Amityville Superintendent Gina Talbert, shown last year, provided an updated...

Amityville Superintendent Gina Talbert, shown last year, provided an updated list of staff reductions on Wednesday.   Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

The number of staffers facing layoffs in the financially stressed Amityville school district has risen to 47, district representatives said Wednesday. 

An updated list of staff reductions released Wednesday afternoon included six teaching assistants, five monitors, three security personnel and one custodian, in addition to 32 teachers announced earlier. The list was provided to Newsday by Gina Talbert, the district superintendent.

On Monday, district officials said they would lay off the 32 teachers at the end of the school year in June, as they dealt with a budget deficit estimated at $3.6 million. Since then, the total number of projected layoffs has risen, as union leaders of various worker units were notified of district plans.

“It's awful in the worst sense for everyone involved — students, families and staff,” said Lance Sinatra, union chief of the district's buildings and grounds staff. Sinatra is a custodian at Amityville High School and a district employee with 18 years of experience.

The district's “dire” finances were the subject of Talbert's remarks at a school board meeting Wednesday night. The “crisis,” she said, “is not a problem that emerged overnight” but a yearslong culmination.

“It appears that our district has had a fragile budget for years. Last year alone, our spending exceeded projections in crucial areas, such as special education, general education, employee benefits and more. Our revenues were overestimated, further exasperating  our already precarious financial situation. Compounding our challenges is the fact that our district's combined wealth ratio does not accurately reflect the realities of our student scholars' families,” Talbert said, adding: “We have minimal dollars in our saving account … to help navigate problems” and a “lack of financial cushioning.” 

And, Talbert said, neighboring districts get more state aid, “leaving us at a disadvantage when funding our schools.” 

Another presenter said that American Rescue Plan relief grants, the Biden stimulus package to address the economic downturn and the COVID-19 pandemic, are set to lapse, too.

Earlier, Nakia Wolfe, president of the district's teacher union, said teacher layoffs would affect about 10% of the district's total instructional staff of 320. 

Teachers in the district have been working without a contract since it expired in June.

Last month, the State Comptroller's Office in Albany listed Amityville as one of three districts statewide in “significant” fiscal stress — the highest-level of risk in the state's rating system. Meanwhile, Talbert issued a letter to the Amityville community acknowledging that the district had closed the 2022-23 school year with a sharp decrease in “unassigned” reserve funds, from $4,219,216 to $686,244. 

Primary drivers for the reduction included costs of services for students with special needs, safety and security, and health-insurance adjustments for retirees, Talbert added. 

With Matthew Chayes

Latest videos

Newsday LogoSUBSCRIBEUnlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months