Sayville parents were out in full force at Thursday’s Board of Education meeting to express their displeasure and concerns regarding three separate issues.
Laura Valente, one of the driving forces behind rallying the community to oppose the , addressed the board during public session.
“You told us to come back in September after last year’s roundtable discussion and here we are," Valente said. "We want to know where we stand with the Princeton Plan. We have not wavered in our opposition to the Princeton Plan, or any modified version of that plan.”
A pure Princeton Plan would mean students in kindergarten and first grade would be housed in one building, second and third graders in another and fourth and fifth graders in yet another building.
Valente urged the board to take the idea of the Princeton Plan off the table, just so the community could start focusing on other options to cut costs.
Superintendent Walter Scharter and other board members said they could not take the idea off the table until they had a better understanding of how to 2 percent tax levy would affect the district.
“Right now, everything is still on the table,” Schartner said. “We don’t know what will happen until we have more realistic numbers in front of us. When we start talking budget, we are going to have to come up with three different scenarios: our regular budget and what we need to sustain programs; one with the 2 percent tax levy; and one at zero percent.”
The public will have ample time voice their opinions before budget talks even begin, the board added.
Another hot-button topic was the transportation issue. While students in kindergarten through second grade get a bus if they live more than a half mile from the school, the distance goes up to a mile for third to fifth graders (grades six to 12 is a mile and a half).
Parent Nicole Sharkey brought up the issue about those with children in multiple grades and handling their busing. Another parent voiced her opinion about the way the school district measures the access points to determine the distance.
According to Assistant Superintendent of Business John Belmonte, the board policy measures “from the nearest walking entrance.” Parents argued that these “entrances” aren’t necessarily monitored by the school, making them unsafe for smaller children.
While the district does have control over unifying the entrance point from each school, they cannot decide the distance from which a child can be bused. That is left to the voters in May and must be put up as a referendum to the school budget. It has failed by relatively high numbers in the past, but the parents at Thursday’s meeting assured the board they would get the word out about it.
Yet another area of debate was the Garfield Avenue maintenance facility. Harry Berg presented the board with a proposal on how to fix up the Tyler Avenue building, in lieu of investing $1.2 million in Garfield Avenue.
“This proposal offers a $650,000 savings to the taxpayers," Berg said. "It’s an alternative that shows you can rebuild and restore Tyler Avenue for roughly $350,000.”
The board members agreed to look over the document and discuss the proposal at the next meeting on Oct. 6.