The Bay Shore school district has reached an agreement with two district unions on a wage freeze, alleviating the need for 39 potential teaching layoffs in the 2013-14 budget.
"Hats off to them," school board president Guy Leggio after Friday night's board meeting. "This is a very special community."
Hundreds of residents had packed a Bay Shore board meeting on Wednesday, many expressing anger that layoffs were being suggested along with a 5.9 percent hike in the tax levy. At that point, the board asked residents to give it 48 hours to come up with a solution.
On Friday, Leggio read a statement to the roughly 30 residents in attendance, shortly before the board voted to adopt the $143.7 million budget, and thanked the Bay Shore Administrators Association and the Bay Shore Classroom Teachers Association for agreeing to the freeze to save teaching jobs.
The 2013-14 proposed budget, a 1.2 percent decrease from the current year's spending plan, includes the 5.9 percent tax levy increase, which district officials said is needed to make up a loss of $20.8 million in state aid over the past five years. Leggio said the district's adjusted tax levy cap is 3.2 percent, so the budget will need 60 percent approval when voters go to the polls May 21.
Board member Andrew Arcuri said the fact the district was able to keep all of its jobs makes the tax increase more palatable. Assistant superintendent for business Maureen Virsinger said the tax hike would cost the average homeowner an extra $35 per month -- $420 per year.
Some residents at the meeting again decried the tax increase and asked about the contingency budget -- the spending plan that would be put into place if the proposed budget fails at the polls.
Shalema Ford, a mother of three elementary school-aged children in the district, encouraged those in attendance to vote yes on the budget as a show of support for students and for teachers and their concessions.
"My teachers sacrificed for me," Ford said, "and I'm going to sacrifice for my teachers."