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Copiague schools cut 54 teaching, custodial, administrative jobs a week before classes start

There are almost 5,000 students in the Copiague

There are almost 5,000 students in the Copiague School District, which includes four elementary schools, a middle school and a high school.  Credit: Johnny Milano

The Copiague Board of Education announced a week before schools are to reopen that it is cutting 54 teaching and staff personnel to offset reduced funding from the state.  

The cuts, revealed Wednesday at a board of education meeting, include schoolteachers, administrators, teacher assistants, security and custodial staff across the district and took effect Thursday.

Copiague schools are scheduled to open Sept. 10 with in-class learning and a hybrid model mixing classes with online instruction. There are 4,924 students in the district, which has four elementary schools, a middle school and a high school.

In a letter posted to parents Monday on the Copiague Schools website, Superintendent Kathleen Bannon wrote that the cuts are because of a reduction in state aid as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. She said the district received state aid that was 20% less than expected and that future state aid would be reduced by 20%.

“It is an unfortunate consequence that we have been forced to make additional budget reductions, which include a reduction in staff,” Bannon said in the letter. “When making these decisions, we were forced to consider how to best utilize our staff, programs, resources and supports for all Copiague students in a manner that minimizes the impact on them. These decisions were not made lightly, but only after very careful consideration and review of all programs.”

The district said Thursday through a spokeswoman that it would not comment further. 

Warning signs of cuts potentially hitting school districts have loomed for months. In April, the State Legislature gave Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo authority to withhold paying school districts, universities and colleges, in the event that was needed to balance the state budget. 

Some parents said they had hoped the district could do more to avoid laying off teachers.

Michael Higgins has two children in the Copiague school system. His daughter will take remote classes as she starts the ninth grade while his son, entering seventh grade, will use the hybrid option.

“I do wonder if there could have been some sort of creative thinking that could have gone on to lessen the blow,” Higgins said. “I’ve always been happy with the district and the teachers. These are permanent cuts and not furloughs. It’s extremely disappointing.”

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