Feller has expressed hope several times in recent weeks that Sen. Charles Fuschillo Jr. and Assemblyman David McDonough, whose districts both include North Merrick, will be able to affect change in the district’s fortunes.
“We have a very good relationship with [Fuschillo and McDonough], and we know they’re very cognizant that we got a cut in our aid,” Feller said in an earlier interview. “In past years they’ve been at the forefront of advocacy for us. They’ve been very supportive of the district.”
Nevertheless, the district’s business office has formulated a plan for how it will cut $761,000 from its budget in case no new state aid figures emerge.
Under the district’s plan, $210,000 in savings would come from things that would have no immediate effect on programs and services the North Merrick schools currently have in place. These include reducing the balance of funds left over from the previous fiscal year and reserves held to cover unexpected transportation and health care benefits costs. The district will also save $99,000 next school year due to a principal taking leave and being replaced by a lower-salaried interim principal, $30,000 by reducing a full-time clerical staffer to part-time work, and $14,000 by converting a vacant custodian position into a lower-paid cleaner position.
The remainder of the budget gap, however, would have to be covered by eliminating teacher positions and cutting back on staff that provide counseling services to students, according to district officials.
Without additional state aid, two classroom teacher positions will disappear, likely at Camp Avenue School. So will a part-time music teacher position. The district will go from having three social workers for its three elementary schools to 2.5, after one social worker switches from full-time to part-time. There will also be a small reduction in the hourly schedules of the schools’ psychologists.
“Any time you go about a process like this, you don’t relish anything,” Feller said of the district’s planning for ways to close the existing budget gap.