Two weeks ago, leaders from New York State announced that school aid totals for the upcoming budget year would be restored.
When all was said and done, the West Hempstead School District saw a little less than $500,000 restored in a "challenging" year where the projected budget number will be approximately $55.6 million.
District Superintendent John Hogan said that the district and parents were active in lobbying with local legislators, like Sen. Dean Skelos, R-Rockville Centre, Assemblyman Brian Curran, R-Lynbrook and Edward Ra, R-Franklin Square.
"Assemblymen Curran and Ra both came here and spoke with us and they were very sympathetic to our pleas, because we had lost about $370,000 in what they call high tax aid, which was a huge hit for us," Hogan said.
The lobbying, which school districts across Long Island were a part of, helped restore all of the high tax aid and a small piece of foundation aid in West Hempstead.
Hogan said that the district is now determining how to spend the additional revenue restored by the State.
"We are hopeful that we may be able to restore some positions, which will help us maintain program and help to maintain -- and perhaps in some cases lower -- class sizes," he said. "But it won't be enough to save the nine-period day, we still come up about $500,000 short."
The superintendent said he was glad to be able to restore a few positions, especially given previous years.
The West Hempstead School District has cut somewhere near 100 full-time and part-time positions over the last five years, according to Hogan. He said those cuts are across the board, from administrators to custodial staff.
Also examined in the budget process was bringing back special education students who are being educated out of district in programs that are run by other school districts.
Hogan said that after taking a close look at the way the special education program is currently run, the district going to be able to bring back a number of the younger students -- pre-k through first grade -- to be educated in district.
"We'll start our own program," he said. "It will be a quality program because we wouldn't bring those boys and girls back unless we could do it as well as the other district."
The superintendent said there will be a cost involved in terms of hiring staff for the district's program, but the difference between what it was costing them to send the children out compared with what it will cost to keep them in district and provide the program here will bring in more savings.
"That will [see] savings as well because when we sent children out, obviously we had to pay tuitions to the other districts," Hogan said.