Major cuts in store for Valley Stream high schools
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Heidenreich said that Valley Stream students who attend non-public schools are not being denied any opportunities with this option, which would not be the case for district students if cuts had to be made elsewhere. He added that if MetroCards were not provided to students who attend these three schools, the middle school sports programs would be on the chopping block.
“Do we want to have middle-school sports or do we want to provide yellow bus transportation to non-public-school children?” Heidenreich said. “I choose middle-school sports.”
Dr. Tracey Nekulak, assistant superintendent for personnel and administration, outlined proposed cuts to the district’s teaching staff. In addition to 15 full-time positions, 4.8 teacher’s assistant positions were slashed in the proposal. Nekulak said that the cuts would save approximately $1.8 million. Six part-time teachers, four custodians, one laborer and one clerical position are also on the chopping block.
“The rules of the game have changed dramatically in terms of how schools create budgets,” Heidenreich said. “We now basically have a cap, and we have to figure out what we can afford within that cap, and then there’s a conversation about which programs add the most value to support our students — keeping in mind that everything we have adds value to students, otherwise we would not have it.”
Three varsity sports teams — bowling, golf and rifle — would be cut under the proposed plan. Heidenreich said that these teams are the most expensive to run because the district does not have facilities, like a golf course or bowling alley, of its own, and the rifle range in the basement of Memorial Junior High School is expensive to maintain. “I have to put forward what I think serves the largest number of kids,” he said.
Heidenreich and his staff will make further recommendations on which programs or positions could be kept in the budget at the March 5 committee meeting. Residents will vote on the spending plan on May 21.