For the first time in years, more than a dozen new teachers and teachers’ aides are joining the Greenport Union Free School District staff. The influx was made possible mostly by this year’s budget increase.
Thirteen new teachers and teachers’ aides and seven other new staff members began their Greenport careers this week with orientation.
Chris Golden, Greenport’s athletic director, led the new teachers on a tour of the village Wednesday afternoon. They were driven by elementary school principal Joseph Tsaveras in the “Book Mobile,” the school’s library-on-wheels that loaned books to children over the summer.
The tour featured the need-to-know places around the village, including the hospital, Mitchell Park, and — of course — all the best lunch spots.
Along the way, several community members stopped in on the tour, including Greenport bus driver Chatty Allen, who couldn’t help but laugh when she saw Tsaveras behind the wheel of the minibus on Front Street.
“This is strange — I’m on the other side,” Tsaveras called as he waved to Allen on the sidewalk.
Other detours included a stop at Noah’s Restuarant, where Golden’s daughter, Jillian, works. She and a classmate stepped onto the bus to scope out their new teachers.
“This is very different from what I’m used to,” admitted Fernando Gomez from Deer Park, who will be teaching Spanish and coaching the junior high football team.
“Greenport is a special place, it really is,” Tsaveras said. He also pointed out that the increase in teachers is only going to help make Greenport even better, especially for its children. “We haven’t had an influx of new staff in so long. When I first started, my tour was one-on-one with the superintendent.”
Greenport was able to hire so many new teachers, he said, because voters passed budget that exceeded the state’s tax cap, which gave the district the ability to hire more staff.
At the budget meetings earlier this year, the need to bring back teaching positions that had once existed in the district was made obvious, said Superintendent David Gamberg.
“During the budget process last year many meetings were held to detail and illustrate the need to restore teaching positions in order to best meet the needs of students,” said Gamberg. “Due to budget constraints [the positions] may have been cut, and that was not sustainable to maintain quality programs and services for students.”
The board put forth a plan that would pierce the state’s tax levy cap of .77 percent with a budget of $17.9 million and a tax levy increase of 8.52 percent. It was passed with a supermajority in May, earning more than 66 percent of the vote.
“We’re thankful because it’s a huge influx. It’s going to make a huge difference,” said Tsaveras. “We’re so excited.”