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E. Islip schools postpone budget adoption

East Islip Middle School.

East Islip Middle School. Credit: Alexi Knock, 2011

East Islip school officials announced Friday they are postponing adoption of a revised budget until Tuesday, in the hope of negotiating contract concessions with employee unions that would save full-day kindergarten classes and other student services.

A notice posted on the district's website states that school officials and union representatives "are working collectively to meet the challenge of restoring these important programs."

Tuesday's school board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the first-floor cafeteria of the district office, 1 Craig B. Gariepy Ave., Islip Terrace. The meeting originally was to be held Friday night.

East Islip's original $107.6 million budget was rejected, with 3,072 "no" votes to 2,545 "yes" votes, on May 15. That budget would have boosted spending 3.58 percent and tax collections 5.94 percent, which exceeds a 3.23 percent tax cap set under a new state formula.

After that defeat, district officials pledged to come up with a lower budget that would keep within the cap. A budget that complies with a district's cap requires a simple voter majority to pass; overriding the cap requires a 60 percent majority.

Friday's notice states that, barring renegotiations of contracts, cutting expenses enough to reach that tax figure would "likely" affect programs such as sports, full-day kindergarten and nine-period daily schedules at the middle school and high school.

One major cost under discussion is teacher raises. East Islip traditionally has provided some of the highest salaries on Long Island, now ranging from $48,429 for a teacher with a bachelor's degree to $135,593 for a teacher with a master's degree plus 90 additional academic credits.

In the 2012-13 school year, teachers are due under their current contract to get raises of 1 percent in July and 1.5 percent in February. In addition, they will get annual "step" increases that are built into their salary schedule and typically average more than 2 percent. Those steps, instead of being given at the start of the school year, will be delayed until June 2013, just before the contract expires.

The district has stated that these and other provisions would drive up total teaching expenses outside special education by $1.9 million, or 5.2 percent.

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