In an effort to keep the budget consistent with the allowable increase due to the tax levy, the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District announced that there would be cuts in personnel as well as programs for the 2012-13 year.
Cynthia Strait Regal, deputy superintendent of business, said that the district is anticipating eliminating six administrative positions, eight teaching positions, three permanent subs, late buses for the high schools and will be shrinking extracurricular activities.
"We lost a lot of teaching positions and we lost a lot of clerical positions last year," she said, explaining that these additional cuts are necessary to stay inside the budget.
Strait Regal put together a presentation that showed the expenses the district incurs for each student – $20,158 per head – and that the budget growth in four years will only be about 3.8 percent based on her estimates, something that she fears will be bad for the school district.
As well as a decreased operating budget, Strait Regal said that the district will also have a hard time generating fund balance due to the fact that the increases in budgets will be so small.
"I've been here in good times and I've been here in bad times. I've never seen anything as devastating as this," she said.
Board member Janet Goller echoed her sentiment. "Sitting on this board, it's just heartbreaking to make these kind of cuts. The students are being impacted in a huge way."
Although the board shared this information with those gathered, parents came out to support the foreign language program – namely French – after rumors around the community circulated that kids would not be attending their home school after middle school if they opted to take French.
Dr. Henry Kiernan, superintendent, assured the parents that the district would not be dropping the language and they are finding ways to make that happen smoothly for the students.
"One thing we can say is that students love their home schools," he said. "We are committed to keeping French and we are struggling to make that happen. We are trying to keep what we have."
Although there was some confusion as parents in the middle schools were told that their children would have to go to Mepham if they chose to take French, Kiernan said that the district decided not to go with the "academy" but to stick to the magnet plan, in which the kids that opt to take French would be bussed to another school and then brought back to their home school after the class. He noted that the parents should have been notified when that decision was made.
Kiernan added that the district is also looking to add Mandarin, which would be an online program taught through BOCES, to the district's selection.