Hauppauge parents spoke out at Tuesday’s board meeting about fear of the potential impact of school officials’ plans to reduce teaching staff under proposed 2011-2012 budget, which goes before voters May 17.
The calls for elimination of 23 teaching positions and five teaching assistants, as staff accounts for 74 percent of the district’s expenses.
“You have every confidence the teachers can handle 30 kids in the classroom. The teachers are doing a fantastic job… but 27 to 30 kids in a third-grade class is too much,” said a woman, who declined to be identified for fear of retribution.
The reductions will cut five full-time teachers at the high school, 5.8 in the middle school, and two full-time teachers with and 2.8 special educations teachers in the elementary schools. This is in addition to the 15 teaching positions the district has eliminated since the 2007-2008 school year.
“Some of the reductions, and I don’t mean to be nebulous, they might impact class size at the high school,” said Superintendent Patricia Sullivan-Kriss.
The district’s contracts limit high school classes to 30 students, Sullivan –Kriss said, but further limitations are imposed based on subject. The superintendent said science classes are often smaller due to a limited number of lab stations.
According to the 2009-2010 New York State Report Card, Hauppauge’s secondary class sizes have remained relatively stable over the last three years. The eight-grade math classes increased from 23 to 25 students on average, social studies from 24 in 2007-2008 school year to 25 students. The tenth-grade math classes and social studies class sizes saw similar increases.
Data for the 2010-2011 school year was not available from the school district.
In the elementary schools, ’ average class size increased from 23 to 25 students, while ’s remained at 23 students and class sizes dropped from 24 to 22 students despite staffing reductions.
The superintendent said the district continues to take active measure to reduce class sizes when necessary, including breaking the fifth-grade class into four sections, instead of three this school year. School officials said they are keeping an eye on the current third-grade enrollment, for next year’s fourth grade sizes. No decision will be made until August.
James Stucchio, assistant superintendent of business and operations, cautioned parents that voting down the budget in effort to save teachers, in hopes of preserving class sizes, might have the opposite effect.
“The message would be the budget is too high, we need you to reduce the budget. What it will lead to, unfortunate, is more personnel reductions,” Stucchio said.