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Letter: Approved Budget Will Not Fund a JV Lacrosse Program

An open letter to the Port Jefferson community from the Superintendent of Schools.

Dear Parents and Community Members,

At Tuesday night’s meeting of the Board of Education, the Board voted unanimously to adopt the budget as proposed at $38,076,500; representing a 2% increase to our tax levy. This spending plan was created after months of evaluation, dialogue, and input from many stakeholders. The driving force throughout the process has been to maintain the integrity (in fact excellence) of our instructional program, while making targeted reductions to prepare for the impending loss of revenue from the LIPA plant. The Board of Education and I are confident that the spending plan presented to the community does just that.

Since Tuesday night’s meeting, however, discussion in parts of the community seems to center around the athletic budget – specifically the lacrosse program. In order to bring clarity to what seems to be unclear, allow me to offer the following:

The proposed budget for the 2012/13 school year does not include funding to support the expansion of our current middle school lacrosse program to the junior varsity level. The Board of Education and I feel very strongly that it would be irresponsible to make additions to the athletic budget while reductions are being made to the instructional program. The expansion of the lacrosse program is no longer budget neutral. In fact, the athletic department spending plan has been reduced for the third consecutive year.

There is no plan to create new fields to accommodate lacrosse or any other sport in the near future. It has been very well documented that our District is preparing to enter a period of fiscal crisis. This is not the time to discuss building athletic fields for any purpose.

The District is aware that an outside group is looking to form a Booster Club in order to raise funds to support the lacrosse program. If this Booster Club is successful in securing the significant funds necessary to allow for the expansion of the lacrosse program to the JV level, the Board of Education will then (and not before) consider approving the formation of a JV team. This discussion, however, will take place next year when we hope to have a clearer picture of our “post LIPA” revenue.

Public schools within the State of New York are beginning to depend more and more on outside donations/booster clubs to supplement initiatives that the budget can no longer support. The Board of Education and I are resigned to the fact that we are no different, in fact – our financial challenges will be far more profound post-LIPA than perhaps anywhere else on Long Island. While discussions we have had this year about programmatic changes have been difficult, I fear we will be having even more difficult conversations in the very near future. Therefore, we anticipate the need to reach out to our PTA/PTSA’s, Royal Educational Foundation, and various other booster clubs in order to find additional support for items that may need to be deleted from future spending plans. We are hopeful that our community will rally in support of our students.

Please plan to attend the community forum that will be held next Thursday, April 26 at 7 p.m. in the HS auditorium. Our Assistant Superintendent for Business, Mr. Leister and I will be giving a final review of the proposed budget and review changes to our program reflected in the spending plan. We will also be available to answer any questions or address any concerns that you may have.

Please note in today’s (April 19) edition of the Port Times Record, an error appears. The schedule at the MS/HS next year will be shifting from a 10 period to a 9 period day (not 9 to 8 as stated in the PTR). Lastly, I encourage you to visit our website, read our newsletter and budget brochure (you will receive a printed edition within the next 10 days) to make an informed decision when you participate in our budget vote on May 15 (6 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the HS Cafeteria).

Regards,

Kenneth R. Bossert, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

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