More than 225 Hauppauge residents have signed a petition asking the district’s teachers, teaching assistants and staff members to take a voluntary wage freeze in 2011-2012 to preserve class size and further lower the proposed 3.46 percent tax levy increase.
“There is a lot of discontent within the community. We would like to have a voice in saying maybe we can all work together to keep our teachers in the classroom doing what they do best and keeping the class size down,” said resident La Young Trantum, as she presented the petition at Tuesday’s board meeting.
The that calls for the elimination of 23 teaching positions and five teaching assistants. If approved on May 17, it will result in 16 teachers and three assistants being laid off after retirements and attrition are taken into account.
The proposed teaching cuts would bring the average class size up to 28 students at and , Superintendent Patricia Sullivan-Kriss said.
“The board members are all saying the children are not getting the fundamentals, so then how is increasing the class size going to help,” said a Hauppauge resident, who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution.
Parents have repeatedly voiced concerns over growing class sizes at district budget meetings. According to New York State School Report Card, the average class size for Hauppauge 10th graders ranged in size from 18 students in mathematics to 25 students in science classes during the 2009-2010 school year.
Many are hoping the petitions will provide support to the district, who is in the middle of open contract negotiations with four out of five of its unions, including the teachers and teaching assistants unions, whose contracts expire this June.
Sullivan-Kriss and her three assistant superintendents have already agreed to take
The superintendent had board members remove $300,000 from the 2011-2012 budget, lowering the tax levy from 4.14 percent to 3.46 percent, based on her belief in the negotiations’ direction.
Other Long Island districts whose teachers have taken a pay freeze or made concessions this year include Brentwood, Copiague, East Islip, Half Hollow Hills, Huntington, Port Jefferson, Shoreham-Wading River and Three Village, according to Trantum.
“There are people who think the petition is about taking money away from the teachers and punishing the teachers,” Trantum said. “We want to support the teachers. We cannot layoff people in this economy. They won’t find another job.”