Cory Swenk, a teacher for two decades in Riverhead, said, “When I started teaching, I had 24 kids in my classroom. Now, I have 33. The personal attention is not there... I don’t wear a cape.”
The district, meanwhile, is also struggling to meet the needs of an increasing population of English language learners.
“Our needs are not like any other district,” said Daniela Perez, a translator in the Riverhead school district. “There aren't enough of us to support our families.”
That, too, is a problem in Port Washington.
Derek Novinski, an ELL teacher in Port Washington, said the growing population in ELL students combined with a lack of appropriate resources has led to 30 students in a class.
“It’s extremely challenging to reach” all of them, he said.
As lawmakers at the Capitol negotiate the 2020–21 state budget, NYSUT is waging a fierce advocacy campaign to increase state school aid by $2.1 billion. The union backs a progressive tax plan to raise revenues through the passage of new taxes on billionaires and ultramillionaires in New York state, ensuring they pay their fair share.
NYSUT — which besides Long Island has already brought its bus tour to schools in the Capital Region, Southern Tier, Westchester County and New York City — will continue visiting districts throughout the state well into February.
Port Washington Schools Superintendent Michael Hynes lauded the union’s work in illuminating the financial challenges that districts statewide are facing. So, too, did Port Washington parent Julie Epstein.
“Children’s futures,” she said, “should not be a game.”