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Letter: From School Superintendents to the Community

We are writing to inform you that the Nassau County Legislature is planning to eliminate the “County Guarantee.” This would result in shifting the cost of reimbursing any overpayment of taxes to the individual school districts.

As a result of this action, homeowners will need to pay higher taxes.

Presently, the Nassau County Assessor is charged with the responsibility of assessing all property within the County. School districts use this assessment roll in the estimation of their revenues and in the preparation of their budgets. However, school districts do not and should not participate in this assessment process. Where such assessments have been declared erroneous, it has always been the responsibility of Nassau County, as the sole assessing entity, to pay all property tax refunds.

If the Nassau County Legislature eliminates the “County Guarantee,” school districts will be faced with yet another financial burden and unfunded mandate which will, in turn, have a detrimental effect on our educational programs.

For example, the school district estimates that throughout Nassau County there will be an overpayment of approximately $80 million. If you divide this overpayment of $80 million among the 56 local school districts, this would represent an additional financial burden of approximately $1.4 million per school district. This is an average and many districts will need to budget much more than this figure. For many districts, this additional financial burden would mean cutting educational programs and reducing staff.

During the past several years, due to the dismal state of the economy, several districts have already cut or laid off many staff members in order to minimize the tax burden on our homeowners. These drastic cuts, which have already had a deleterious effect on the school district programs, will be exacerbated by this additional financial responsibility.

An additional burden of $1.4 million translates into approximately 22 teaching positions. Cutting 22 teaching positions would result in higher-class sizes, and there could also be cuts to other support personnel like social workers, psychologists, and guidance counselors, at a time when Levittown children need them most.

Nassau County residents have come to expect excellence from their schools. The school districts in Nassau County provide children with an outstanding education, and graduates attend the finest colleges and universities throughout the country. In order to maintain the excellence of our school districts, it is important not to place this additional financial burden.

Please contact your local representative and tell them not to eliminate the “County Guarantee.”

Dr. Herman A. Sirois,

Superintendent of Schools of Levittown U.F.S.D.

Dr. Charles J. Murphy,

Superintendent of Schools of Island Trees U.F.S.D.