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Despite $4.1 million in budget cuts, Community School District 28 opened with a full complement of teachers last week, Superintendent Neil Kreinik told a school board meeting in Forest Hills Monday night.
As the new school year began, district administrators scrambled to compensate for $120 million withheld from the city Board of Education by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani because he wanted Schools Chancellor Harold Levy to cut his agencys administrative budget.
The mayor is holding us hostage for cuts he wants the chancellor to make, said Kreinik.
The superintendent said he did his best to minimize the damage of the budget cuts, but conceded all reductions are damaging.
We didnt impact directly upon the classroom, but everything you cut impacts the classroom, he said.
School Board 28 covers schools in Forest Hills, Jamaica, Richmond Hill, Rego Park, Kew Gardens and Ozone Park.
I didnt cut one teaching position, said Kreinik. I didnt cut one guidance counselor position or one assistant principal position. Other districts did that, but I didnt.
Instead, Kreinik focused his cuts in areas he said do not directly affect the classroom.
While teaching positions were not affected, the 29 schools that make up District 28 were forced to shoulder reductions in school aides, kindergarten paraprofessionals, supplies, materials and after- school programs, the superintendent said.
Weve started to cut down on buying and supplies and other needs, said School Board President Shirley Huntley. The superintendent sent out a memo telling people to not even order a pencil.
The cuts were spread across various areas, according to Kreinik, so as more money comes into the district we can layer it back on and not have to start over.
Huntley said it is customary for the city to rescind cuts a few months into the school year.
We have high hopes, she said. It happens every two to three years, but then they restore the money in October or November.
Kreinik said the budget cuts were the only bumps in the opening of the school year in the district. Despite the appointment of 27 new senior staff members such as assistant principals and acting principals, there were no major problems when schools opened. New permanent principals were installed at PS 161 in Richmond Hill and PS 206 in Rego Park.
Its probably one of the smoothest openings weve ever had, said Kreinik.
Unlike many districts in Queens, a borough short of at least 20,000 seats, Huntley said overcrowding was not a major problem in District 28. We are not as overcrowded as other districts, she said. Were probably less than 100 seats short.
But Kreinik said there is a detriment to the seamless transition to a new school year.
Every day that passes without money coming in and with everything working well makes them think theyre right in making the cuts, he said.
Reach Reporter Daniel Massey by email at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300.
©2001 Community Newspaper Group
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