Dear Copiague Families,

Since March, we have navigated the closing of our schools and creation of a remote learning plan, organized ways to celebrate our students’ accomplishments and honor the Class of 2020, and developed a reopening plan that reimagined education in the wake of a global pandemic. To say these past five months have been challenging is an understatement. Unfortunately, those challenges continue.

As you may be aware, in order to make up for a pandemic-related shortfall in the state budget, school districts across New York State were expected to prepare for a cut in their state aid. On August 20, the District received a state aid payment for the 2019/20 school year that was 20% less than expected. Along with that payment was a notice that all future state aid payments would also be reduced by 20%.

In developing our proposed 2020/21 school budget, the District had prepared for a reduction in aid, which historically had affected only Foundation Aid. At this time, the reduction is not limited to Foundation Aid, but instead applies to all “mandated payments.” This is unprecedented and not something the District can absorb without impacting our programs and staff. It is an unfortunate consequence that we have been forced to make additional budget reductions, which include a reduction in staff.

When making these decisions, we were forced to consider how to best utilize our staff, programs, resources and supports for all Copiague students in a manner that minimizes the impact on them. These decisions were not made lightly, but only after very careful consideration and review of all programs.

While the state is currently defining these aid reductions as “withholdings,” it has made clear that in the absence of federal action, these reductions will become permanent. The long-term ramifications of this could be financially devastating to our school district due to our reliance on state aid, which is almost half of our revenue budget.

In Copiague, we are resilient. When times are tough, our staff and community always rise to the occasion and make sure our students are provided with the best education and opportunities possible. We will continue to focus on our mission to ensure the safety, well-being and education of our students. They are counting on us.

Thank you for your support as we navigate these challenging times. We will keep you updated as any new developments occur.

Dr. Kathleen Bannon Superintendent of Schools