Superintendent Michael Hynes has carried his arguments against state aid cuts to Shelter Island to Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr.(I-Sag Harbor), the man who will represent the Island next year thanks to redistricting. He has also emailed Senator Kenneth LaValle with his arguments. And he plans to contact Governor Andrew Cuomo prior to the February school break if he hasn’t made headway with the state legislators, he said.
He told the Reporter last Friday the district can’t sustain the 17.1 percent cut in state aid projected by the governor’s budget proposal and said he intended to take his case to elected officals.
“I talked to Assemblyman Thiele today and emailed [Mr.] LaValle,” Dr. Hynes said. “I am hoping to have more information by the end of the week.” Mr. Thiele was receptive to the superintendent’s concerns and told Dr. Hynes he would call him again when he has more information from Albany.
The cut projected for Shelter Island would amount to $83,588 from the $486,263 the district received from the state to help fund the current school year.
“I compare it to the stages of dying,” he said in a Friday morning telephone interview. He described himself as locked into the first phase — anger.
“I will never get to the acceptance phase,” he said. “It’s outrageous and it’s not just us,” he said. East End schools are all being viewed as though they possess the wealth that is typical of wealthy Hamptons communities, the superintendent said.
The proposed cuts have no rhyme or reason, Dr. Hynes said, echoing a refrain that has been voiced by East End superintendents in the past: the state aid formula reflects higher property values here, but not lower salaries earned by many workers on Shelter Island and the North Fork.
“We cannot sustain this,” Dr. Hynes said last week. It would “handcuff” Shelter Island School as it undergoes major transformations in efforts to better prepare its students for college and the job market, he said.
When Governor Cuomo announced his budget proposal last week, he boasted about an overall 3-percent hike in school aid statewide that would see education spending rise from $20.2 billion in the current school year to $20.8 billion next year. Then came the district-by-district breakdown with more bad news for East End Schools, Dr. Hynes said.
Shelter Island’s loss would put it among the top four in the state of districts being asked to sustain state aid cuts. That’s a position the superintendent doesn’t eye with any pleasure, he said.
The district begins its budgeting process on February 11 with a meeting set for 6:30 p.m. in the school library.