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Sachem: No closings until at least 2015-16 school year

This file photo shows Sachem High School East

This file photo shows Sachem High School East in Farmingville. (Sept. 15, 2013) Credit: Ursula Moore

The Sachem school district, which announced a flurry of school-closing options last month, has decided that all of its campuses will remain open in the 2014-2015 school year.

The school board will spend the next several months considering four possible scenarios for closings, officials said. The earliest change could come in the 2015-2016 school year.

School board president Rob Scavo said Tuesday that the district needs to take time before making such an important decision.

"We felt more study would be necessary to do it right," he said.

Sachem, the second-largest school district on Long Island, serves 14,000 students in two high schools, four middle schools and 12 elementary schools.

Its proposed budget for the 2014-2015 school year is $291.3 million. Its current budget is $286.9 million.

The district's four choices are clear-cut, Scavo said. They are:

close two elementary schools and redistrict;

close two middle schools and move sixth-graders to elementary schools;

close two elementary schools and a middle school;

close Seneca Middle School.

If Seneca Middle School were closed, students at Hiawatha Elementary would go to Samoset Middle School, those at Grundy and Nakomis elementary schools would go to Sequoya Middle School, and pupils at Waverly Elementary would go to Sagamore Middle School.

District and board officials will consider each scenario individually over the course of several board meetings -- but not until this spring's budget season is over, Scavo said.

The idea of closures arose last year when Sachem was in a financial free fall. More than 200 teachers lost their jobs, and programs and clubs were drastically cut.

"Last year was a bad year," Scavo said, adding that he would like to add to the teaching staff next year if money allows.

The district, like many others across Long Island, has struggled to meet soaring health care, pension and other costs with added pressure from the state-imposed property-tax cap, meant to restrict the financial demands placed on local residents.

Sachem's original 2013-14 spending plan sought a 7.49 percent tax-levy hike, the highest on the Island sought by any district last May, and well above the district's tax-levy limit. The budget was voted down.

In a June re-vote, residents approved a revised budget with a 3.14 percent tax-levy increase -- equal to the state's limit for the district.

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