As the clock slowly ticks closer to the vote on the Bellmore School District's 2012-2013 budget - the first to be held under the New York State-imposed two percent tax cap amid additional cuts in state aid - parents who attended Monday's meeting were assured that everything will be done to maintain the quality of education that they've come to expect in Bellmore.
“Over our dead bodies, will we allow anyone to take education away from our kids,” said Trustee Jay L.T. Breakstone. “There’s no way that we’re going to turn around and let someone tell us that they’re going to take one of the finest education systems in the country and flush it down the toilet.”
While corners will have to be cut, the board pledged to maintain the essence of what makes Bellmore schools some of the finest on Long Island. However, Breakstone predicts that not all New York State school districts will be able to roll with the financial punches like he claims Bellmore will.
"My prediction is that you'll see a number of upstate school districts declare bankruptcy,” he said. “They will have to send their children to the next county or the next district to get an education.”
To drive home the quality of local education, some figures presented by Superintendent Joseph S. Famularo at the meeting stated that if Long Island was an actual state, it would be ranked number one in high school completion rate (Wisconsin would rank second).
“The number of diplomas conferred on Long Island last year was 34,600,” Breakstone said. “The number in Wisconsin was 64,000...and that’s a whole state.”
The budget vote will take place on May 15.. Leading up to the vote, the board will hold several public budget work sessions in the Winthrop Avenue School board room at 7:30 p.m. on the following dates: March 6, 13, and 20.
Also, the board bid a fond farewell to teacher Ann Roman, who has faithfully served the children of Bellmore for the past 24 years and is retiring. Roman was the recipient of a special award that evening presented by Board Trustee Maryanne Kelly.
“Ann Roman has been a valued member of the teaching staff of the Bellmore school district, and hundreds of children have grown and developed by your caring and dedication to them,” she said. “The board takes public notice of these accomplishments with affection and esteem, and wishes you a happy retirement.”
The next scheduled meeting of the Bellmore Board of Education is on Tuesday, March 20, at 8 p.m.