Few speak up on eve of vote

BC’s school budget one of few to challenge tax cap

— Four people rose from the audience at Wednesday’s meeting to speak on the budget.

“I wish I could tell you I support the budget, unfortunately I really don’t,” said parent Scott Bonanno after thanking the board members for their hard work. “I see the 3.99 percent not as an undoable number … but I think the problem is there’s no solution for next year and there’s no solution for the year beyond that.”

Board member Caitlin Navarro said she understands people are unhappy about the situation, but she would caution residents about letting the budget fail because going to a lower contingency would just mean additional budget cuts and more jobs lost.

If the budget is voted down twice, Kehoe said the district would need to make $6 million in additional cuts.

The adopted spending plan calls for cuts to electives resulting in larger class sizes, phasing out the Chinese language program, reducing 20 percent of all clubs at the middle and high school levels and eliminating the gymnastics program. The district is also working on a plan to implement centralized bus stop locations, meaning some students in higher grade levels would need to walk farther to reach a bus stop.

One woman asked why the district did not list the cost of all of the state unfunded mandates schools are required to provide.

“The community knows each year those mandates are increased and we have to absorb those costs,” she said.

Douglas said the mandates are usually the hardest for districts to implement and pay for, and said this year three more mandates have been added including C.P.R. instruction and how to prevent childhood abduction. The superintendent said a report out of Suffolk County estimated state unfunded mandates equal about 18 to 20 percent of a municipality’s budget.

“The problem is unfunded mandates can be seen two ways,” he said. “We can say they’re unfunded mandates, but the state can say that’s why we give you state aid so therefore we are funding them. So that’s the point and counterpoint, however we know the reality. They keep giving us state aid, but they keep giving us requirements, too.”

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