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School vote: Aiming to 'do good by the kids' in Brentwood

Phyllis Diesso, a food server in the Brentwood

Phyllis Diesso, a food server in the Brentwood School District, votes on the Brentwood School District budget Tuesday at Southwest Elementary School. (May 17, 2011) Photo Credit: Daniel Goodrich

Voters in the Brentwood School District voiced a range of views about the proposed $311,477,042 budget, which is 2.43 larger than the current budget with a 4.92 hike in the local tax levy.

The budget calls for eliminating about 90 teaching positions, reducing the school day to eight periods and cutting about half of the sports teams.

Isabel Romeu, 44, a Bay Shore resident voting at the Southwest Elementary School, said her son-in-law, a Brentwood High School graduate who is in his third year as a bilingual math teacher at the school, was told Friday he will be laid off. “I’m worried about cuts to the school programs and teacher layoffs,” she said.

Patricia Koch, a 30-year district resident, said she would vote against the budget because the economy is “dismal. We’re looking to lower taxes, not raise them.”

But Carmen Hannibal, 65, said she would vote for the budget because she doesn’t want more school programs cut. “My youngest’s thirty. We moved here to better ourselves and if we can’t do good by the kids, what’s the point?"

Michael Migliore, 50, echoed her sentiment. “I’m more concerned about the children,” said the 1979 graduate of Sonderling High School. He said he felt the school board had done its best to keep the tax increase low.

And James Nordhausen, 79, said he raised five children who went through district schools and, while he could little afford a tax increase, he hates seeing programs cut. “I don’t want to see the kids lose out on the extras,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of those here.”

Margo Schiavo, who’s lived in the district 50 years, said she credited the teachers for their hard work but felt the administration needed to take “a hard look at themselves.”

“They could do a lot better in cutting the budget without hurting the teachers or kids, in my view. It’s at the top — the board and administration needs to take a close look at its wastefulness.”

Carmelo Gonzalez, 48, a graduate of Brentwood High School, said he voted against the budget.

“I don’t want to see the superintendent getting pay increases,” he said. “They should be putting some of that aside for the kids.”

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