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Concessions Help Restore Clubs, Athletics in Miller Place

Administrative concessions, a State Aid increase and other factors lead to the restoration of clubs and athletics that were on the chopping block.

(Editor's Note: The original article posted stated that there was one concession by the Miller Place Teacher's Association, but what was agreed upon is a retirement incentive. There has not been a concession agreed upon by the MPTA. We apologize for the miscommunication.)

When the Miller Place Board of Education , it was announced that some clubs and programs that were on the chopping block would be restored, but it wasn't known how many.

At Wednesday's meeting, Superintentent Susan Hodun presented the changes to the budget and announced that all co-curriculars and athletics that were in danger have been restored thanks to concessions and other factors. Certain classes and the positions associated with them were also restored.

At the , six clubs were restored and at the Middle School, one club and the entire athletic program will return for the 2012-13 school year. The total co-curricular and athletic reductions decreased from $262,477 to just $10,620 for athletic uniforms. 

Regarding staffing reductions, the originally proposed 22.5 faculty position reductions fell to 16.7. This was highlighted by the return of two music positions with the restoration of the performance groups and high school jazz chorus and band. Also, High School elective course offerings in business, science and other fields were restored.

There were a few keys to making restorations possible, and those included concessions, retirements, clerical reductions and an increase in State Aid. Miller Place administrators will pay an extra $4,000 to $5,000 into their health benefits, and a full list of concessions will be in the minutes from Wednesday's meeting, which will be available later in the week. The Board also announced that it is still at the table with the Miller Place Teacher's Association, and it's possible more changes will be made.

An additional three clerical and support staff reductions were added, along with the elimination of one bus driver. The district announced that six teachers will be retiring this year as well. State Aid for the district was increased by four percent, and a change in the debt service figure increased the districts tax levy cap from 2.6 percent to 2.96 percent, a total allowable levy of $41,300,365.

After concessions were announced, a stream of residents flooded the microphone to voice their appreciation.

"I was up here a couple of times trying to get everyone to show leaders and take the first step and this truly is taking the first step," said Marc Bloom of the Athletic Booster club. "It really means a lot to us and it shows the first step towards righting the community."

The final budget hearing before the May 15 vote will be held May 8, and additional adjustments to the budget could be announced.

Captain Howard Hawrey April 27, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Sure it's "double talk"! The Admin makes concessions to save programs yet our Tax Levy goes from 2.64% to 2.96%. Where are the headlines that read BOE made concessions to increase our Tax Levy to 2.96% to save these programs? Between now and the next board meeting I'm sure there will be "minor concessions" by the MPTA to save the 16.5 jobs. My question to you all is: How much higher is our Tax Levy going to go when the MPTA makes their "minor concessions" to save jobs? We tax payers are quietly taking it on the chin while the Admin and possibly the MPTA get publicity for making "minor concessions". Again this is step in the right direction but I'm calling BS on the reality of the process!
johnny amsterdam April 27, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Why is this the burden of the teachers??? Start contacting the govenor's office and DEMAND that our tax dollars go to Long Island schools instead of the ones upstate.
Wlodek April 27, 2012 at 07:51 PM
johnny amsterdam, You have a wrong focus. The problem on LI is that the salaries and benefits in the schools are unaffordable and have grown out of proportion what the communities can support and afford. They are also out of proportion compared to what most in the community pay for their benefits or their incomes. No amount of school aid can compensate this. The BOEs who award those contracts do not plan how to pay for them. The time of passing the cost onto the taxpayer is over.
Wlodek April 27, 2012 at 08:24 PM
Captain, I suggest that we should not mix the concessions with the surprise of the increase in the tax levy from 2.61 to 2.96 percent, about which the community was neither told in a timely fashion, nor in the right way. I think that these two are independent events, which, because of their timing, are incorrectly being connected. The explanation that, at the BOE meeting on April 25th, was given to me regarding why the tax levy was increased was not sufficient; so, as you see, more of an explanation is needed. So this issue must be clarified so we all can know what happened and when it happened. The explanation given by MPmustChange in only one part of the story. I believe that thanking the administrators and those who made concessions so that programs for the children can be restored is appropriate, and so I did express my thanks to them at the last BOE meeting.
Janet April 28, 2012 at 08:22 PM
I agree with Wlodek, the residents of the Miller Place school district can no longer afford the too high school taxes. Long Island teachers and administrators as compaired to the rest of the country are grossly overpaid. Only when teachers salaries and benefits are in line with the rest of our country will the Long Island taxpayers get true tax relief.
Lisa April 29, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Janet with all due respect, the cost of living in general on long island is one of the highest in the country. So think about what you just said. The salaries are in line with exactly what people with masters degrees and above need to live here just like everyone else.
Wlodek April 29, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Lisa, Actually it would help if you could support your comment with statistical information. Furthermore it is not only salaries, it is the compensation package as a whole that drives the cost of running the schools: the almost guaranteed 6 percent pay raises, the health care contributions that are below what others on LI pay, the fixed pension benefit, the retirement inducements that increase the value of the pension at the retirement time, which then become a long term liability for the school districts, the list goes on. Lats but not least, if the market place were to determine the compensation the cost would be much lower as there are many well qualified LI teachers who are teaching in NY City or are currently unemployed who would gladly accept the jobs in local school districts.
Janet April 29, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Yes Lisa, the cost of living on LI is higher than other places but I see every day the "expectations" of people living here. I work in private industry and have not had a pay increase in several years yet I am still happy to have a job. I make less now than I did in 2008 and pay more into benefits & do not have a pension or summers off-happily so since I have a job. With all due respect Lisa, not all people who live here have masters degrees and above yet we are the ones who are struggling to pay for the people who do.
Janet April 29, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Thank you Wlodek. Well said and so true.
Lisa April 30, 2012 at 10:44 AM
Ok Mr. Wlodek According to longislandindex.org they quantify the high cost of living to be 30 percent higher than the national average. also not to beat a dead horse, but whenever anyone states a teacher salary they never say how long that teacher has been working in that district. The higher salaries are usually for those that have been invested in their districts for 15 years up. And it is important for the public to know that all teachers must complete a masters and in some districts plus. In many companies that cost is often offset by tuition help as a benefit. Not so for teachers. That cost is out of pocket. Also, here is another statistic for you. NY state is paying Pearson publishing 32 million dollars to make the state assessments. That is crazy in light of all the errors. Why aren't you all screaming up at Cuomo to restore this money back to the kids?
Janet April 30, 2012 at 11:19 AM
Lisa, please excuse me but you do live in a bubble. I know what the cost of living is in LI. I live here remember. Do you really think that most of private industry pays for degrees? It's been 20 years since most employers have paid for a persons education, not to say that some might not still but they are few. And after what the salaries are I'm sure you have gotten that education money back many times over. I've been a full time employee for 42 years and as I said my salary is lower than 2008. Can you, a teacher, say the same? I have a quote for you-those who have no fear (tenure) have no reality ( unemployment). And as far as the statement on another blog by you as to you would be happy to pay more taxes to educate your children-well all I have to say is I would be happy to pay more taxes also if I took it from my right pocket and put more back into my left pocket.
Lisa April 30, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Janet. First, to address the Tenure issue. Tenure is not a life time job. Unfortunately the public just hears things and then repeats them as gospel. Tenure is the right to due process. It is to protect good teachers. Refer to this article to educate yourself.http://neatoday.org/2010/09/17/what-tenure-is-and-what-it’s-not/ Also Janet you live in a bubble because 0ver 74 percent of us companies give tuition reimbursement. http://www.compdatasurveys.com/2011/03/02/tuition-reimbursement-an-important-benefit-5/ And I always stand behind what I say... Yes I would pay more taxes to educate my children! I have taken a hard freeze on my pay since 2009.
Janet April 30, 2012 at 09:01 PM
Lisa, There is no winning this discussion. We see things VERY DIFFERENTLY. But I will be darned if I will be forced to move from the home that I love and the friends that I love because I can't afford property taxes to pay for someone else's perks.
Lisa April 30, 2012 at 09:31 PM
Nor should you. I totally undertand these economic times that are affecting us all. But I think that the wrong group of professionals are being vilified all across our nation.
Janet April 30, 2012 at 11:40 PM
Once again, that is your opinion not mine.
John May 01, 2012 at 02:38 PM
Just to clarify a statement in the article above....The Business Department in the Miller Place School District has NOT been restored. According to the handout at the last budget meeting, they restored .4 from the 4.8 initially slated to be cut. If you do the math, that equals 1 teacher working less than part time. That means that the hundreds of students who were hoping to take a business class next year will NOT have that option. No Accounting, Business Law, Fashion Merchandising or any of the great electives our children love will be available. The only choice will be the Computer Literacy class that some kids needs to graduate. I also read in the handout, that FBLA, the Future Business Leaders of America, had been restored. Seems strange to me that we can restore FBLA and have NO future Business Department. The Administration and the Board should be embarrassed that with all of their so-called business experience, they would let such a travesty happen. In a ever shrinking global economy, it is a shame that Miller Place students will head off to college or the real world with no prior understanding of business. As a parent of 2 High School students this troubles me and it should be a concern to all parents here in Miller Place.
Wlodek May 01, 2012 at 09:52 PM
John, All could be avoided if MPTA agrees to make concessions that allow avoiding the layoffs and restoration of the programs, including business classes. As you can read in Scott Mandia's blog on the Patch the ball is in the MPTA's court now and the whole community waits to see if MPTA puts the children in the middle of the MPSD circle, the phrase used in the past to describe the importance of children's education. The discussion during the budget process clearly demonstrated that after years of supporting the budgets and the contracts almost unconditionally, the parents are concerned both about the education and affordable taxes. Now is the time for MPTA to reciprocate.
Janet May 02, 2012 at 11:31 AM
But I thought all those years and all those budgets were "for the children" not the teachers. Perhaps see thru NY had something to do with taxpayers realizing what is truly going on.
Captain Howard Hawrey May 02, 2012 at 01:14 PM
Wow! Somebody took their angry pill this morning! Complain about people moaning and groaning at sporting events and not showing up at board meetings yet you "hide" behind the "frustrated with complacency" title. I think everyone agrees the MP teachers are (for the most part) very good. It's being able to afford them that is the issue, has been the issue for years, and continues to be the issue. The community taxpayers can only give so much. That is a reality.
Janet May 02, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Ditto. Perhaps Frustrated with Complacency is a teacher who is not happy about giving up some of his or her perks. And to let you know I do not feel like a greedy SOB when I want a raise, considering I haven't had one since 2007 and I make less now than I did in 2008 and am still trying to afford to pay my Miller Place school taxes. And no I don't expect the stay at home moms to teach the children. I think, on the whole, teachers are a wonderful part of our community, but in my opinion they are overcompensated. If you are a teacher and I have insultated you I am sorry but I am entitled to my opinion as are you, but you did insult my inteligence as well as the rest of the Miller Place residents. And as far as not speaking at board meetings perhaps they can't attend due to having several job as I do in order to aford the taxes we have to pay. But I forgot I'm a greedy SOB.
John May 02, 2012 at 05:18 PM
Wlodek, With the budget vote quickly approaching, i also hope an agreement can be reached, so our kids can enjoy all of the things Miler Place Schools have to offer. I just feel that if cuts do need to be made, they should have been made equally. I don't believe one department should be decimated in order to relieve the burden. Our children deserve better than that. They should be receiving a complete education, not one that leaves out skills that they will take with them for a lifetime .As for the community's stance on education, the message was loud and clear that clubs and sports were a major priority. During the budget process, the only meeting that was "standing room only" was the one concerning clubs and sports. The room was only 80 to 90 percent full during the workshop on education cuts. Please don't misunderstand me, my children have enjoyed all of the clubs and sports available. But in my house, its education first, everything else is second. i just wish the Administration and the Board felt the same way.
Janet May 02, 2012 at 06:34 PM
What happened? Did Frustrated with Complacency remove their blog? Or was it flaged as inappropriate? I'm disappointed, I wanted to show it to my husband so he could see how angry and upset people can get with this issue.
Mark Larson May 02, 2012 at 07:22 PM
John, I, too, hope that an agreement can be reached that preserves the full academic program. It would be a shame, and short sighted, to kill off the business program, as well as so many art and foreign language offerings. The only way out of this is for compromise, and I hope that reasonable, cool heads prevail in the final negotiations. I differ with your take on the interest shown by the public. I have not seen the board meetings so well attended in many years. That, coupled with the active debate here on Patch and through the various organization's email listserves, has lead to the most thoroughly vetted budget process in a long time. Anyone who has been paying attention knows the rotten financial shape the state and national economies are in, and that all of the loose change in the couch cushions has been located. Compromise is the only solution.
Wlodek May 02, 2012 at 11:37 PM
John, Thank you for the politeness of your comment. I appreciate that even if one disagrees, one can to it in a civil manner. You probably know that I have been involved in the MPSD budget discussions for a long time. My position has been a support of Sound Academics Neighborhood Economics (SANE). Allow me few observations. The community is not putting sports and clubs ahead of education. However one needs to realize that sports and clubs have been cut in the past to preserve academic programs. All this while the MPSD community continued to support the teachers and their contracts, even if those unaffordable contracts meant cuts in AP classes and other programs you would consider purely academic. In order to do so the community absorbed tax hikes that over the years were many times of inflation. This was unsustainable and lead to what we are facing today. I am continuing below
Wlodek May 02, 2012 at 11:38 PM
John, So at this time we have community contributing by supporting a budget that will very likely result in the taxes growing by three to four percent, this should not be confused with the tax levy growth of 2.96 percent. The administrators gave back also. Hence the choices made by the BOE and the administration are based on what was mandatory in education and by what keeps the balance in MPSD. It is my opinion that preserving the programs and cutting all co-curicula activities would not be the right choice. It is not realistic to expect that concessions from the administrators would be used towards saving teachers jobs, while there are so many other needs. So the only way to preserve the educational programs and the jobs that go with them, which is what we all want, is for the Miller Place Teachers Association (MPTA) to give something as well. I am frankly puzzled that in this economy and given what I just wrote MPTA seems to be willing to do nothing.
MP Majority May 07, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Our nation is in a dire economic mess, and we are getting rid of the Business Department. What a joke! Most High School Students don't know how to balance a check book, and yet we are cancelling the Business Dept. I think we should all be very happy that MPTA is only absorbing a 3% Health Insurance increase, when the industry as a whole has absorbed a 15+% increase this year. That surely makes up for the loss of the Business Dept. The priorities of this school district are ass-backwards. We have an army of unemployed teachers waiting in the wings, who would gladly work for 1/2 the amount that many of the current brethren are working for, yet our Administration and BOE defies the laws of economics and supply/demand, and bends over backwards allowing the Unions to continue to rule in this climate. Isn't there something very, very wrong with this economic picture???????????? It's high time to flush them all out of our district.
MPmustChange May 08, 2012 at 12:37 PM
MP Majority: You are correct....there is something extremely wrong with this economic picture. Please note that the Busness Dept is not a "mandated" class. Therefore if it cannot be afforded it must go. Sorry to say....but when you cant afford what you have you have to start cutting. All electives are extremely important....and every year another one is gone. This is what happens when the community has given and given over the past many years with a rubber stamp to all Union Contracts. A quick lesson is Business....if you couldnt afford last years budget, why would you give a raise based on the CPI and a contract extension to boot???? And knowing that you gave up all that...what on earth made you think you were going to be able to afford it this year???? Or did you just think that the tax payers were going to roll over and pierce the cap? The MPTA knew this was coming and laughed all the way to the bank. Seems that everyone involved needs a Business Dept! The disconnect in this community is clearly the MPTA or should I say the management of the MPTA. They have clearly lost a sense of reality!
MP Majority May 08, 2012 at 04:05 PM
MPMustChange, agree with everything you said here, and then some. Aside from Laddie Decker now on the list of failing ELS schools (I forget which grade), we used to be ranked 73rd in the NATION amongst public school districts, not too long ago. Now we don't even crack the Top 500. So, let me see, our tax increases have been outstripping the rate of inflation by close to double over the last 10 years, and the "product" we are giving our kids has significantly worsened. Real Estate prices in Miller Place are crumbling at a faster rate than the rest of Long Island. Doesn't all of this speak volumes???? Since it all starts at the top, we need a "purge" of Administration who obviously doesn't understand Economics, and MPTA needs a hard dose of economic reality. Ignorance of economics is no longer an excuse. The days of Entitlement muse cease.
MPmustChange May 08, 2012 at 08:09 PM
So let me get this straight, we have paid more and more each year for a product that has gone down and down each year???? And everyone is upset that the Business Dept is closing down???? Voting "yes" time and time again. When I first moved here, we were ranked 56th (or somewhere around there). I remember feeling so proud that I was moving into a great school district. Since then we have gone down each and every year. Why is that? How can that happen? Didnt we approve each and every year? Didnt we give them everything they asked for? Oh thats right...its all the mandates.....I could go on and on but I have to take my children to one of three different tutors inorder for them to understand what the h*ll is going on in a class that is being taught by someone with a Masters Degree...
MP Majority May 08, 2012 at 09:14 PM
What a good many MP taxpayers over the years have believed is that "paying more" equates to "better education". Nothing could be further from the truth, as our district has proven through metrics. We need to "spend wiser" and "spend more efficiently". Just throwing more money @ Administration and MPTA doesn't fix an inherently dysfunctional system. Yes, teachers and Administrators alike have profited greatly from this type of mentality in the past as their overall slice of the budget continues to increase percentage-wise, but this must cease immediately. In private industry, the "poor performers" would be shown the door, layoffs would be swift and steep for non-performers, and the ruling brethren would be thrown out on their asses. I know 2 of the 16 pink slip people personally - they have taught my kids. Both are extremely competent, but due to being "low on the totem pole", they are the ones getting canned. Yet another casualty of a very broken Unionized system. Miller Place is no longer a School District that we can be proud of. And the taxpayers are equally culpable for this mess, by continuously standing by the status quo, and passing budget-after-budget increase, and feeding the powers who are nothing but self-serving entities. Absolutely disgusting.

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