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Hempstead school board votes to cut 18 positions

Hempstead School District interim superintendent Fadhilika Atiba-Weza is

Hempstead School District interim superintendent Fadhilika Atiba-Weza is seen outside Hempstead School District office in Hempstead, on Friday July 1, 2016. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

The Hempstead school board has voted to cut 18 positions, ranging from music teachers to an executive director of research, testing and evaluation.

The five trustees acted late Tuesday night after a three-hour executive session, during which they considered recommendations from interim Superintendent Fadhilika Atiba-Weza to limit the personnel cutbacks.

Under a previous proposal, as many as 44 professionals and teachers were slated for elimination to keep spending in line with the district’s $189.2 million budget.

The budget, approved by voters May 17, reduces spending by 0.40 percent. It raised the local tax levy by 0.10 percent in a bid to restore fiscal balance.

Board president Maribel Touré did not return calls seeking comment on the personnel cuts. Officers of the Hempstead Classroom Teachers Association could not be reached.

Trustees Touré, Melissa Figueroa, David B. Gates, Gwendolyn Jackson and LaMont Johnson had scheduled action on the job eliminations at their July 5 reorganizational meeting, when the board voted on its officers for the 2016-17 academic year. But the matter was postponed until Atiba-Weza had a chance to evaluate the proposals.

The interim superintendent, whom the board hired on June 29, started work in the post on July 1.

Atiba-Weza had asked the board, at its July 5 meeting, for time to assess whether some jobs could be saved. On Tuesday night, he said he had recommended the pared-down number of 18.

The trimmed positions also include science, English as a Second Language and special education teachers, as well as professionals such as psychologists and social workers.

“At the end of the day, with limited resources, there were only so many positions we were able to save,” Atiba-Weza said after the board concluded its work Tuesday night. “I would love to have been able to save every position, but our resources just do not allow us to do that.”

Hempstead has one of the largest student populations among Nassau County’s 56 districts. It had an enrollment of about 7,400 in kindergarten through 12th grade in the 2014-15 school year, the most recent figures available from the state Education Department.

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