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Breathalyzers And Budgets Hit The Spot

At the Island Trees Board of Education that took place on Feb. 13 in Sparks Elementary School, two main topics were on the agenda: The use of breathalyzers as well as preparing for the upcoming budget season. 

“In more recent years, we have had some issues with alcohol at the prom,” said Dr. Charles Murphy, Island Trees superintendent. “In fact, we had to ask a number of students to leave the prom because of this. In many cases, we have students and parents who have denied that their child had been drinking – sometimes creating tremendous scenes at these venues.”

To that, the district is looking to have breathalyzers on hand at the event this year to not only combat those students who arrive at the venue already having been drinking, but the Board also hopes that it will prevent students from coming to the prom drunk because of the realization that the breathalyzers don’t lie when it comes to blood alcohol content. “Our new policy will clearly address whether or not the students have been drinking. Of course, we’re only going to test students who we suspect are under the influence. Naturally, our goal is to have an alcohol-free prom by using the Breathalyzer as a deterrent,” he explained. 

In addition to the use of breathalyzers at an end of the year event, the Board of Education is already looking towards next year with the up and coming development of a budget that will stay inside of the 2-percent tax levy cap, which was implemented for the 2012-13 budget. However, it seems as if there will be more challenges this year, including pension plans and the fact that one of their schools is looking as if it will be vacant next year, also throwing the District a curveball that may be almost too large to offset any gains made in new New York State Aid to Island Trees. “As far as the budget, the New York State mandated pension contributions have drastically impacted our budget this year,” Murphy said. “In total, this alone is a $1.4 million increase. In addition, we lost our tenant for the Gallow School–Nassau BOCES–and the result is a $500,000 loss to the district. These two item account for almost a $2 million budget swing. Yes, we received about $400,000 in new state educational aid, but this doesn’t help cover the changes noted above,” continued Murphy.

In other board of education news, the Board approved the school calendar for the 2013-14 school year, a contract with the Madonna Heights School, approved entry into a new contract with Plainedge for health services for the 2012-13 school year and approved a high school field trip to Metropolis Studios in New York City.