Teacher cuts and larger class sizes are being considered as Kings Park school administrators struggle to close a $2.2 million dollar budget gap for the 2013-14 school year.
Kings Park District Superintendent Susan Agruso laid out a worst-case scenario of cutting 18 teachers if aid is not restored from the state.
“We’ve cut all the other stuff,” said District Superintendent Susan Agruso referring to the past years budget cuts. “Now we are looking at staff.”
Instructional salaries and benefits make up the largest part of the district's budget at 53 percent of the overall breakdown. The biggest increase in expenses the district is facing is a $1.7 million increase in retirement costs for teachers and administration, which Agruso has said is the “big chunk of why we are in this budget crisis right now.” Agruso said that number increased from what was originally anticipated.
Step increases for teacher salaries also play a role. "This is the second biggest expense, which goes up $1.1 million just for step increases.”
A first look at cuts shows the elimination of eight elementary teaching positions, four of which are due to declining enrollment. At the secondary level, cuts being considered include 1.0 in math, 1.1 in science, 1.0 in social studies, 1.0 ELA, 1.6 in PE, 1.4 in music and.8 in art and possibly an additional 2.1 positions at the secondary level.
Agruso is hoping that the $600,000 in state aid will be restored. “We were expecting extra money, but what we got so far is less,” she said.
A rollover budget with a 3.5 percent tax levy increase, while still under the mandated tax levy cap, still leaves the district with a $2.2 million gap.
The board of education also weighed the possibility of cutting an advanced placement computer science course, which students and staff came out to support saving.
The board said they would like to see the class remain, but would have to see if aid would be restored in April.
“It’s a function of money,” said board president Marie Goldstein, who favored keeping the class intact. “We have to balance this.”
The next budget workshop will be held on Monday evening at 7:30 at the high school.