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Mar 23, 2011 1:16 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Eastport South Manor School Board Lays Off 23 Teachers

Mar 23, 2011 1:16 PM

A handful of teachers brushed away tears at last week’s meeting of the Eastport South Manor Board of Education as President Vincent Sweeney read the names of 23 teachers who will be laid off next year. The Junior-Senior High School cafeteria—at one point filled with almost 200 parents, students and teachers last Wednesday, March 16—cleared out in a matter of minutes as he continued reading the names of teachers who had their careers in the district cut short.

Superintendent of Schools Mark A. Nocero said that the layoffs were a necessary step in order to slash $3.4 million from the district’s 2011-12 budget, resulting in an $82.4 million spending plan. The elimination of the 24 teaching positions—one was unfilled—in addition to cutting two as yet unidentified administrative positions, will trim $2.3 million off next year’s proposed budget. The remaining $1.1 million in cuts will come from slashing programs in the school, including theater and athletics, among others.

The teachers who were laid off were: special education teachers Michael Kazaks, Kerri Wood, Jacqueline Kunzer, Dawn Skelton, Rebecca Abrams, Peter Edwards, Karen Furlani, Lisa Maffia and Jennifer Abramovich; business teacher Elizabeth Kraemer; health teacher Philip Kordula; English teachers Lara Sauer and Jennifer Alvarado; reading teacher Lisa Corbett; math teacher Danielle Falco; science teacher Deborah Hauer; elementary school teachers Melissa Mohr, Charissa Voss, Amy Schiebl, Michele Tester and Cheryl Manthe; and physical education teachers Brian Sacks and Rebecca Thorn.

In the wake of the firings, Eastport South Manor Teachers Association Vice President Mike Doyle said the union has served the district with a notice of claim in reference to a large number of special education teachers that have been slashed from the district’s ranks. When Mr. Doyle announced at last week’s School Board meeting that the union plans to sue the district over the teacher cuts, the room erupted into cheers.

Nine special education teachers will be without jobs in the district next year as a result of the program cuts. The proposed alterations to the special education program—which are expected to save the district about $780,000 next year, according to school officials—decrease the number of certified special education teachers in the high school and adds certified special education teaching assistants to work in their place. Next year, special needs students will meet with their teachers every other day, as opposed to the current model where they work with the same teacher every day.

Marie Patton, the parent of a student in the special education program in the district, asked board members to reconsider the cuts.

“Your program has given our families hope,” Ms. Patton said. “I ask you not to make short-term saving costs to the program.”

Ms. Patton said that she and other parents of children with special needs are extremely proud of the district’s well-respected program, noting that many residents moved into the district in order to enroll their children in the program. She added that with the proposed changes, many parents are considering moving their children from the district and into different programs.

Oregon native Sherice Burns, a parent of a student in the special needs program, addressed board members just after they terminated the 23 teachers—including her son’s teacher, Ms. Furlani.

“I moved here specifically for this school district,” Ms. Burns said, noting that she left her family behind in Oregon in order to give her son the best special needs education she could find. Ms. Burns said that she missed her younger daughter’s birthday party to be at last week’s board meeting, and that earlier that same evening she had the first conversation she’s had with her son in five years.

“He asked, ‘Where’s Ms. Furlani?’” Ms. Burns said. “That is the first conversation I had with my son in five years. The decision tonight was to cut a person who taught my son how to live. I am so disappointed. My son will never be the same.”

She added that in light of the changes in the program, she will probably move her family out of the district—and out of New York entirely.

Ms. Burns’s comments concluded a nearly three-hour public comment session during which nearly 30 community members pleaded with members of the board to reconsider the layoffs and program cuts.

Mr. Nocero addressed those attending the meeting—which had been moved from the board’s small meeting room into the cafeteria to accommodate the swell in attendance—explaining that the cuts were anticipated by the district.

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As always happens, the kids suffer the most.
By markmontina (2), Southampton on Mar 18, 11 11:18 AM
Philathome is right. It IS special ed (along with "irrelevant" subjects like art and music and sport programs excepting football) that usually get the axe in tough budget times. Special ed teachers are more highly-paid than comparable regular teachers because of their higher academic qualifications. They also serve very few students compared to regular teachers. So the district saves a lot of money and impacts a minimal number of students by firing them.

I would argue, however, that ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Mar 18, 11 11:34 AM
First of all special Ed teachers make the SAME as any other teacher! Please research your statements before you post them! As a special Ed teacher myself, it makes me mad that people don't know what they are talking about! Check your facts
By Petey54 (1), Manorville on Mar 18, 11 5:48 PM
If you read the article, the district is totally changing how often a special ed child sees a certified teacher. This is decreasing services to those kids and not fair to THEM.

Highhatsize-The class size in elementary will be 25. High school I think they said will be 29 in many classes. Also, special ed teachers are paid on the same scale as elementary teachers, art teachers, gym teachers , science teacher....

Plus they just fired a head custodian for stealing money from the district ...more
By esm34 (9), manorville on Mar 18, 11 5:22 PM
This really saddens me. To start, I feel horrible that the teachers have lost their jobs. Secondly, as a parent of a child with special needs I am seeing first hand how critical the services provided by special education are. These kids need the help if they are going to have any chance academically and socially. Though I am not in the Eastport South Manor SD, I realize that this could very easily be my district and my kid having services diminished. However, is this really a solution or a small ...more
By double standard (1506), quogue on Mar 18, 11 11:42 PM
It's sad that the district is cutting any teachers and class sizes will increase. Yet the Brookhaven town planning board just approved another housing development (Woodland Meadows) of 70 homes for our district. That brings a minimum of 140 children. The article is on the front page of this weeks printed adition. You can't keep building housing and expect to work with less teachers and have your taxes increased and get less services. I didn't see any administrators on the lay off list.
By lifesaver (118), speonk on Mar 19, 11 9:12 AM
to Petey54 & esm34:

Please forgive my ignorant comments about the ESM school district. I didn't realize that special ed teachers therein were paid at the same rate as regular teachers nor did I realize that the student/teacher ratio was so high.

That being said, I reiterate the point that I should have made without encumbering it with inaccuracies:

Special ed teachers are the last employees in a school system who should be cut. They are more critical to the future of ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Mar 19, 11 11:38 AM
I agree.
By double standard (1506), Remsenburg on Mar 19, 11 12:54 PM
Even if the teachers gave money back, they can not get those teachers back. The district changed the program. There are no longer spots for them if they stick to the A day/B day schedule where the special ed teacher only sees their kids every other day.

highhatsize- most schools on LI have those numbers in the classroom. You will not find those numbers anywhere here, even in some private schools.
By esm34 (9), manorville on Mar 19, 11 9:35 PM
The question here should be why does it take 20% more people employed by LI school districts to educate less students then we had 20 years ago? Could it be the patronage mill and/or the unproductive system that has been set up to do less with more as most unions run by this rule. How come the private sector's productivity increases each year and the school system's of LI productivity decreases? There is no more money left folks, wake up and smell the coffee.
By maxwell (169), speonk on Mar 22, 11 12:47 PM
I totally agree with this comment. If teachers cared about the kids as much as they implore the rest of us to, they would lobby their own union to get realistic. The quicker the power of teachers unions is broken, the better. Great teachers have nothing to fear from a world unprotected by a union.
By local12 (34), Remsenburg on Mar 22, 11 3:58 PM
It is only a matter of time before collective bargaing is stripped from public employee unions here in New York.
By Duckbornandraised (184), Eastport on Mar 22, 11 12:47 PM
The "sad", true fact of the matter is that we CANNOT afford to take in "the huddled masses" any longer.

This is the real, modern, world.

We cannot sustain the entire deposed world populatoin, within our borders.

It's not feasible, and we cannot sustain practicing such behavior.

By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Mar 26, 11 3:20 AM
Read the article on this same site about the farmers that cannot survive without immigrant workers - undocumented or otherwise. Look at Texas where they pass strict hiring laws, except for those people hiring Latino house cleaners and gardeners. Ask any economist worth his salt and he or she will tell you that if you get rid of the undocumented workers, our economy will collapse around us.

In post after post you take the most simplistic view. You have no freaking clue about the "modern ...more
By razza5351 (551), East Hampton on Mar 29, 11 4:35 PM
If we got rid of the "undocumented or otherwise" workers, profit would be slashed! (GASP!)

My goodness, some higher ups, would be forced into taking a PAY CUT!

(GASP! again!)
Mar 29, 11 9:12 PM appended by Mr. Z
You're not really that simple, or naive, to believe that for us to have a sustainable society, we need to have "cheap labor"? How about reasonable compensation across the board, for an honest day's work, which (GASP! once again) could, Providence forbid, lead to less disparity, dischord, and dissension?
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Mar 29, 11 9:12 PM
As usual, you are simply to thick to grasp even the simplest concept: Without the undocumented workers there is no one else willing to do the work, regardless of wage. These legitimate farmers are paying a decent wage. Seriously, dude, take your own advice and wake the ---- up
By razza5351 (551), East Hampton on Mar 30, 11 10:19 AM
People who work retail (Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Sears) usually get minimum wage, @ $7.25/hr. .

Which gets paid better?
Apr 2, 11 9:22 AM appended by Mr. Z
You think immigrant workers are the only "cheap labor" in this country?
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Apr 2, 11 9:22 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By YEAROUNDER (81), East Hampton on Mar 29, 11 3:57 PM
You don't like it? lol
By YEAROUNDER (81), East Hampton on Mar 30, 11 9:47 AM
Wow Razzzz, once again your hatred of our country has rendered you incoherant. Cut the seemingly never ending unemploymentmerry go round and force people to GO TO WORK! That will push the illegals out of the job market and perhaps , when the jobs dry up, send them back to wherever the came from. Notice:NOWHERE IN THE ABOCE COMMENT WAS THERE ANY MENTION OF RACE OR ETHNICITY.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Mar 31, 11 10:04 AM
Yeah,yeah, I hate America, I am a Maxist, yadda, yadda, yadda. Wouldn't it be easier for you to just cut and paste your drivel? By the way, what the heck is an "ABOCE COMMENT"? Sounds Latino.
By razza5351 (551), East Hampton on Mar 31, 11 12:04 PM
How about, work like some of us do.

Harder, with zero compunction about what jobs we are willing to perform. None too dirty, and if you knew me, and what I do, we shold have a spot on "Dirty Jobs".
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Apr 2, 11 9:28 AM
Care to address the points made in the comment? Sorry if the typo offended you
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Mar 31, 11 5:24 PM
The measure of civilization is how it treats its disabled and elderly.
By lara b (1), pt. jefferson on Apr 9, 11 1:28 PM
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