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Southold Spending

An Open Letter To The Southold School Board And Our Community,

The Southold School Unit of the Civil Service Employees Association supports the Southold School Board and its Administration in developing a 2006-2007 school budget that will maintain an excellent educational program and meet the needs of the community.

We oppose the reduction of staff. Our District's greatest asset is its employees. These men and women "get the job done" and are responsible for the levels of excellence we achieve. For every employee laid off, work will go unfinished and therefore, at some level our school programs will suffer. It has been proposed that as few as four and as many as seven Teacher Aides will be laid off, and if a contingency (Austerity) budget is imposed, the New York State/Federally mandated Teaching Assistant classification will be abolished altogether. Such a loss would necessarily result in the reduction of services presently offered to students. This would be especially evident at the Elementary School, where the majority of the cuts have been recommended and where young people are most in need of such services.

Teacher Aides provide valuable supervision monitoring students at lunch, on the playground, in the hallways, and during physical education and instructional class time. They are trained in basic first aid, CPR, and the use of on-site defibrillators. Often, the Teacher Aide is the first person your child comes in contact with when injured or sick. The supervisory duties of the Teacher Aide allows faculty members time to focus on educational goals and objectives. Special Education, Computer Lab, Print Shop, and Library Aides assist students and faculty, performing duties specific to those disciplines.

Teaching Assistants, mandated by the Federal No Child Left Behind Act with compliance required by the State of New York to continue to receive Federal funding, work directly with students. They participate with teacher supervision in putting forth class work, evaluating performance, and improving student-to-mentor ratios in the classroom.

Southold's current staffing of Teacher Aides and Teaching Assistants is based on workloads observed by knowledgeable administrators and educators. To reduce these positions is to admit failure in providing appropriate staff levels for a recognized need.

It has been proposed that two Custodial/Maintenance positions be left vacant following the retirement of two workers. CSEA asserts that staffing levels are critical in maintaining the physical assets, buildings and grounds of the school district. With a physical plant that doubled in size six years ago and with a growing demand on building and grounds use by the community, there is no wisdom in allowing these positions to go unfilled. The work is there and staff must be available to do it.

For 14 years, the Southold School Unit-CSEA has had an excellent relationship with the community and PTA volunteers who come into our school to enrich the experiences of our students. The two or three times an issue arose regarding volunteers on campus occurred when past administrations blatantly tried to replace workers with free volunteer labor. CSEA's concerns now, as in the past, include our legal right to work, issues of student confidentiality, legal liability, exposure to the district, and the attendance and retention of qualified persons. We welcome volunteers who bring skills and offerings into our school that we CSEA members can not provide.

In closing, we appeal to the Southold School Board of Education to create a fair and workable school budget that does not reduce valuable and necessary staff. We appeal to the voters of the Southold School District to go to the polls on May 16 to vote for the budget this School Board proposes. Seventy-five percent of our CSEA Unit live and pay taxes in the Southold School District. Fully, 93% of our members live in the Township of Southold. We are aware of the cost burden that is placed upon us living on the North Fork. We stand together with you to shoulder that burden. Thank you very much from the 56-member Southold School Unit-CSEA.

DON FISHER, President
April 12, 2006

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