Union, school officials battling Cuomo’s cuts

JULIE LANE PHOTO | Shelter Island Faculty Association President Brian Becker discussed a letter on Thursday to Governor Andrew Cuomo about the projected cut in state aid.

Shelter Island teachers joined administrators and Board of Education members in letting Governor Andrew Cuomo know their displeasure at cuts in state aid that are projected for the district.

In a two-page letter sent to the governor on Thursday and signed by most of the Shelter Island Faculty Association, they asked for reconsideration of the projected 17.1 percent cut projected to hit the district and warned that failure would make it difficult for members to support Mr. Cuomo.

The letter is “just to show that the teachers are taking a vested interest” in the budget,” Mr. Becker said in a brief interview Thursday afternoon as he coached the junior high school girls’ basketball team.

“It’s the cost of education,” he said about a budget that is needed to sustain the faculty and programs within the district.  The letter was signed by 32 of the 36 faculty members and would have been signed by all if htere hadn’t been some absences, Mr. Becker said.

The letter calls the governor’s proposed budget “incomprehensible and unfair. Several of our faculty members have tried to contact you individually but to no avail,” the letter said. “We are now writing you as an entire unit to express our discontent.”

The letter asks the governor to explain the formula he used in deciding that “children in our district are less important than children in other districts. We would further like you to explain to our community why they receive much less in state aid than they give to you and the rest of the government in tax dollars.” The proposed cuts would force the district to choose between fewer teachers or fewer programs for Shelter Island students.

“Your current formula for providing aid is extremely prejudiced against the East End of Long Island and specifically our district,” the letter said.

Mr. Becker said he understands there are other budgetary pressures, but as a Shelter Island teacher, he said he felt he had to lead the charge to try to reverse the governor’s decision.