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Pearl River Schools Proposed Budget Would Cut Programs, Teachers

The Pearl River Board of Education will hold a public hearing before adopting a proposed 2013-14 budget tonight.

Pearl River Schools Director of Operations Quinton Van Wynen promised there will be no surprises in the 2013-14 district budget being proposed for adoption at tonight's meeting 7:30 p.m. in the district administration building.

"If somebody got up (Tuesday) and said, 'I didn't know that.' I'd ask where they had been on vacation," Van Wynen said. "There are no surprises. It all flows from the program suggestions."

Pearl River School District building principals and department heads were called upon to find places to cut in their budgets. They explained those options during a meeting Jan. 23. At that meeting, Van Wynen said the district had to make up a $1.7 million deficit to get under the state-mandated tax cap. 

"(The proposal) is based on the $1.7 million deficit and the program changes we discussed in January," Van Wynen said. "It's eliminating the deficit through program cuts."

The proposed budget can still be changed between tonight's meeting and the Pearl River 2013-14 Budget Vote and Board of Education Election scheduled for May 21 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. in Pirate Cove at Pearl River High School. 

The proposed budget calls for 17.1 total positions being cut, which has an impact on 19 people, some of them part time. The district was able to cover for some of the need for cuts when four employees retired earlier this year. 

"That saved people (from being let go), not positions," Van Wynen said. "This is the first time we are letting people go because we are altering programs."

The full list of positions being eliminated can be found in the agenda for tonight's meeting here on the Pearl River School District website.

The following positions would be abolished:

  • 1 Art teacher
  • .6 Music teacher
  • 1 Librarian
  • 1 Special education teacher
  • .4 School psychologist
  • .5 Speech teacher
  • .6 Math teaher 
  • 1 Social studies teacher
  • .8 Spanish teacher
  • 3.4 Elementary school teachers
  • 6 Teaching assistants
  • Duplicating machine operator
  • Audio visual aide (part time)

One of the elementary school teacher position cuts is due to a decrease in enrollment. One less section will be needed in 2013-14, so the position is being being abolished. Aside from that, all classroom teacher positions will be filled and there will be no reduction in the number of sections, so the staff reduction should not have an impact on class sizes. 

Van Wynen said the budget proposal will put Pearl River Schools under the state tax cap, though the actual levy increase will be 3.5%. The state's cap is two percent, but there are exceptions. In this case, most of the exception that applies is the increase in the amount the district must pay into teacher's retirement system. 

"Even though the levy is going up 3.5%, it is within the law," Van Wynen said.

Tuesday's meeting will also include presentations of Pearl River High School National History Day Student Projects. The projects include "The Fall of the Berlin Wall" by Chris Seiss and Kevin Murphy, "The Storming of the Bastille" by Kaitlyn Lavan and Deidre O'Toole, "The Invention of the Steam Engine" by Liam O'Connor, "Napoleon's Russian Campaign" by Christian Cartensen,  "The Execution of King Louis XVI" by Kristen Sammon and Samantha O'Grady and "The Easter Rising in Ireland" by Aisling McGinley.

For more information on the school district budget process, read the following posts on Patch. 

  • Pearl River Schools Examine Expenses
  • Pearl River School Board Addresses Questions About Administration
  • Pearl River Schools Continue Budget Workshops
  • Pearl River Schools Accept Four Retirements
  • Pearl River Schools Face Budget Cuts for 2013-14

Correction: The proposed reduction in speech teaching positions is 0.5.

Mike March 19, 2013 at 11:16 AM
no cuts to administartors??? yea, yea, we heard the board a few weeks ago tell us that this is the "hardest" working group of administrators ever known to mankind. what a joke. Cut teachers, cut programs, decimate special education but keep paying high six figure salaries to adminstrators who cant manage their way out of a paperbag. I plan to vote every single one of the board members off during the next election.
Kelly Garrett March 19, 2013 at 01:44 PM
i understand that we have to cut the fat, but really no cuts to administrators? they continue to sit in their cushy job in a hard working community (and mind you, the reason why our kids score well and are no trouble is because the parents in this community are PARENTING their kids.) yes you have the occasional underage drinking or vandalism (show me a place that doesn't). BUT, taking away programs and teachers that make a difference to the families here in pearl river is a disgrace. we pay a tremendous amount in taxes!!! administration needs to be cut. keep the teachers and cut the big shots and all of the extra bodies. i agree, people need to be voted OUT!
Ryan Buncher (Editor) March 19, 2013 at 02:05 PM
Note there is one correction. The proposed cut in speech teaching positions is 0.5, not 0.6. Also, regarding the elimination of 3.4 elementary school teaching positions, that change is not expected to increase class sizes. One of those teaching positions is being cut due to a decline in enrollment. The others will not be classroom teachers.
CR March 19, 2013 at 02:58 PM
It's not just the number of positions, it's the cost, including benefits, of those positions. Something has to be done about the Pensions and Benefits for both teachers and administrators. Until that happens, cuts like those mentioned in the article will continue to happen. Teachers (and Cops) should not the be richest people in the town. Their full package of salary and benefits is way too rich and is one of the main reasons everyone's taxes are going up so dramatically.
Eric March 19, 2013 at 03:40 PM
Here is a link to see what the administrators are paid. The data may be a couple of years old. It was high then. http://data.newsday.com/new-york/database/?pid=429 John Morgano - $221,181 Quinten Van Wynan - $172,261.15 Carolyn Moffa - $164,170 Todd Santabarbara - $133,613
Mike March 19, 2013 at 06:46 PM
add in the costs of buidling principals, director of curriculuum, etc, etc and these are the salaries that add up to a significant part of overall employee cost per capita. But as I said, in teh Patch just a few weeks ago, the Board members came out in SYTONG support for each andeveryone of these people and their positions. The commenter above is correct..PRSD scores well because we have involved parents and a middle to upper class socio-economic environment...not due to good administrators or policies. In addition, PRSD is notorious for "off loading" kids with special needs and LDs to other districts or parenst basically give up and send this kids to private schools when they have these needs. We simply dont get the value but we get great public relations. Very disapppointed with the board being co-opted by the administration.
Lynn March 19, 2013 at 08:43 PM
I love how the board says they have no control over what goes into retirement and health benefits. Wasn't it the board who negotiated those contracts! Now they say they have no control. PREP/Challenge is being cut because it's only for certain kids. What about special ed? remedial reading? plays? sports? busing? those are only for certain kids yet those programs are not being eliminated. Find more places to but back. Elimination of a program is not an option. The schools primary purpose is education. Everything "extra" should be cut back before an entire educational program is eliminated.
Mike March 20, 2013 at 12:30 AM
The Board has been co-opted by the Administration and imo has abdicated their responsibiity to both the students and the taxpayers. The board should immediately proceed to look at restructuring contarcats and salary structures for every administrative employee yet now they vote to cut teachers and direct student services. We have a awful special ed program and what does the director of Curricullum do when the NYSED directs most of teh curricullum. Its a joke- start the process to either cut positions or cut these salaries. What a disgrace
Mike March 20, 2013 at 12:34 AM
are you a spokeman for the board and teh district or a reporter? You appear to be saying these cuts will not impact students...yes or no? Why not do a piece on how much PRSD administrators are paid compared to front line teachers? What % of total employee salaries are made up by administrative costs per capita (# of employees). ask real questions and stop being a mouthpiece for the propoganda coming out of the Supervisors office!
maureen March 20, 2013 at 12:38 AM
Dear "CR".....you should do a little more research on teachers salaries. My daughter is a teacher in the county and she gets paid crap for what she does. Also, she pays dearly for her medical coverage and it's not that great. The amount of extra time she puts into her job, plus the money she puts out for school supplies (because they have been cut) is ridiculous. Please, don't suggest teachers make too much money and suggest they are on par with the police salaries. Also, to "Mike"...you are absolutely right. Pearl River is known for "offing" the Special Needs Kids....These parents have to fight, often for years, to get help for their kids. It's shameful. AND lastly, to "me".....are you for real? You want to keep PREP and cut Special Ed? That is not an "Extra"! Of all the districts in the County, Pearl River is known as the worst for Special Needs services. My other daughter is a Special Needs teacher. I've learned a lot about what goes on..... I love Pearl River, have lived here over 30 years.....hoping the taxes will not force me out.
Mike March 20, 2013 at 01:28 AM
maureen...agree with you on special ed- its the dirty little secret of the PRSD and I hope it comes to light. I have given up..I cant get any help for my child in thsi distrcit and I know many, many other parents of kids with special needs and LDs who get ABOSLUTELY NO HELP OR SERVICES FROM THE PRSD. Many parents are like me and have given up which is sad but by the time you sue teh district its too late for your child and this is exactly what those who manage our school district know. Het Ryan...why not do an invesitgation on this dirty littel secret instaed of buying ths distcict and now apparently Board of ed line on the "malcolm awrd winning distrct" What a joke!
Lynn March 20, 2013 at 03:35 AM
Maureen...you misunderstood me. I don't consider special ed an "extra" any more than I consider PREP/challenge an extra. They both meet the educational needs of children who learn outside the norm. Unfortunately, they are not viewed that way by others. The elem/MS Principals suggested cutting PREP because it's only for some kids and not all. (With that convoluted logic I mentioned other programs that are only for some, like SpecEd, it makes no sense)...When considering these draconian cuts I understand that some of these "extras" are the only reason some enjoy school. However, if the school cut (art, music, drama, speech, psychologist) I have the option as a parent of paying for my child to take music, art, speech elsewhere. If the school cuts PREP/challenge there is no place I can take my child and pay for it on my own. There is no option other than the school. The district has mentioned it's operating as a business. With this in mind I don't understand why they asked each Principal and director to cut $x. With my own budget I don't cut a certain amt in each category. I prioritize. Why didn't they ask for more suggestions then necessary from each Prin & Dir and then prioritize as a district and cut as a district. Surely some buildings and categories are leaner than others and shouldn't all be cut an equal amt.
Kelly Garrett March 20, 2013 at 10:33 AM
Oh and one more thing, why does Pearl River High School need two (yes 2) Vice Principals? Someone please elaborate.
Kelly Garrett March 20, 2013 at 10:34 AM
Great info...do you know what the TWO Vice Principals at the High School get paid?
Doreen A March 21, 2013 at 11:41 PM
I don't think people who are not in the schools on a regular basis realize just how much the administrators, teachers and staff do on a daily basis. More and more state mandates come down and everyone is forced to do more with less. PR has not had the extra administrators like other districts have had for years such as department heads, deans, etc. Despite what some people have written about everyone who works in PRSD only caring about the dollar, the personnel in these schools are incredibly dedicated to the students, parents, and community. I'm sorry that a few vocal people with negative experiences a the only ones speaking out....I don't think it reflects the majority of families. And when these administrative salaries are being listed, I hope people are comparing them to other districts with similar demographics. My children have had teachers who have inspired them while teaching them. I only wish no one had to lose their positions.

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