The Amityville School District will lay off 32 teachers at the end of the school year as it faces a $3.6 million deficit, district officials said Monday.
In a letter to the residents posted on the district website Monday, Superintendent Gina Talbert said, “We have made the difficult decision to excess staff members in a variety of positions across the district at the end of the current school year.”
She said she also expects class sizes to increase in the 2024-25 school year to pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels.
The letter states that positions to be cut range from central office and building-level support staff to members of the teaching staff. Officials confirmed that 32 teachers will be let go.
Talbert noted in her letter that increased costs for services of children with special needs, an unanticipated rise in charter school enrollment and higher costs in security and health insurance have contributed to the deficit.
“Additionally, several grants used to fund programs and services within the District will expire this year, requiring the District to make personnel adjustments due to loss in funding,” she wrote. “This is not a decision we came to lightly, as we greatly value all staff who have dedicated themselves to our district and students of Amityville.”
Nakia Wolfe, president of the Amityville Teachers Association, questioned the district’s handling of its budget and finances. School districts statewide received millions in state and federal aid because of the pandemic and he questioned why Amityville was facing a deficit now.
He said he has met with the staff “trying to give them support until we find out how this happened and why this happened.” He said he’s concerned that academic achievement will suffer if class sizes return to pre-pandemic levels.
The district’s teachers have been working without a contract since it expired in June.
“In addition to being angry and frustrated — we are very disheartened,” he said. “As teachers and school professionals, we rely on school leadership to manage the school properly.”
Last month, Amityville was among five Long Island school systems identified by the state comptroller as facing varying degrees of fiscal strain. Amityville was on the "significant stress" list.
Talbert issued a letter in response to the report, 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, she added.
Talbert added that the drop in reserves had originally been reported at a Nov. 8 board meeting and that a detailed plan had been adopted to deal with the problem.