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District Aims to Restore Guidance Department in 2012-13

Guidance would be restored at the elementary level.

The Port Washington  continues to grapple with arriving at a 2012-13 budget that falls within the New York State 2-percent tax cap. But at Tuesday's board meeting at , the board delivered the welcome news that it aims to restore full-time guidance at the elementary level, thanks to a bit breathing room in the budget.

Assistant Superintendent Mary Callahan explained that in January the board had to find $1,156,000 cuts to the budget; but as of Feb. 7 because of teacher retirements it was able to make salary adjustments in the budget, freeing up about $500,000.

That allows the district to “potentially restore items to the budget,” Callahan said.

Superintendent Dr. Geoffrey Gordon said $200,000 of that money would be used to restore full-time guidance at the elementary level. The district lost 2.5 elementary guidance counselors in the 2011-12 budget.

But in restoring the service, the move would enable guidance to conduct outreach to the community, providing early intervention. In a community with a diverse populuation, the effort would help prevent problems, assisting not only families, but the school structure.

“It will help teachers and principals,” Gordon said.

The staff, he said, was already employed at halftime with a benefits package in place, allowing the district to maximize efficiencies.

Guidance would also be restructured at the high school through contractual parameters, providing more time, including lunch periods, for parents and students to meet with counselors regarding such matters as college planning. 

There was no determination yet about restoring library services, or maintaining PEP, clubs and sports and the arts. Yet on the clubs, activities and sports front, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Mooney said the units committee was working collaboratively and "making progress."

The district has not recommended cuts yet, as February is still the beginning of budgeting process. There will be a budget hearing at  the March 6 board meeting at Schreiber at 8 p.m.

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