Friday, 18 February 2011 00:00
School board member Regina Rule, before becoming a trustee, was active in the formation of the Manhasset Citizens Advisory Committee for Legislative Affairs. In the article to the left, that committee is referenced: “… the attorneys said that it is perfectly legal to involve the communities in creating the aspirational goals that would lead to more mutually beneficial contracts with teachers across Long Island. North Shore Board of Education President Dr. Igor Webb added that the idea for this meeting began, in fact, through Manhasset’s Citizens Advisory Committee on Legislative Action, and the idea was to include not only administrators and boards, but any local residents with input.”
Ms. Rule has attended board meetings and recent joint meetings of local school boards. At the request of the Manhasset Press she has provided the following account:
“The Manhasset Citizen’s Advisory Committee of Legislative Affairs effort to build a coalition of schools to speak with one voice gathered steam at a meeting last Thursday night, Feb. 10, in the Black Box Theatre. Representatives from a number of districts met again to coordinate a campaign to educate our communities about the need for reform of state mandates. Discussions centered around the need to reach our elected Senators, Assemblypeople and the Governor, and an outline of intended plans was agreed upon.
“With the NY Senate passing a 2 percent property tax levy cap beginning July 1, 2012 and the cuts announced in State and Federal education funds, school districts across New York State are facing unprecedented budget pressures and uncertainty about the future. In meetings over the last couple of weeks, the coalition, LEAD or Long Island Educational Advocacy District, drafted a letter to circulate to school districts across Long Island that calls for responsible mandate reform before the imposition of a tax cap. As part of this effort, the board unanimously adopted the letter at its Feb. 3 meeting and sent it to Governor Cuomo, his Mandate Relief Team, Senators Martins and Skelos, Speaker Silver and Assemblypeople Schimel and Flanagan. The board encourages members of the community to make their voices heard as well, especially because the tax cap will have significant implications for public education in New York State. The letter can be found on the school district website at www.manhasset. k12.ny.us and reads:
“Long Island is justifiably proud of our schools. Without mandate reform, however, the proposed tax cap will destroy our schools and with them the quality of life in our communities. We know from the experience of California with Proposition 13 that blind imposition of a tax cap can result in great damage to our schools, our children, and our communities.
“As taxpayers, we of course favor reductions in taxes. But lasting and responsible tax relief will only occur if costly mandates are removed or reformed before any tax cap is instituted, because a tax cap fails to address the root causes of property tax increases. This should include:
• Reforming the state pension system to make it more self-sustaining, by having Tiers 3 and 4 contribute as they were originally intended, and creating a Tier 6 with a defined contribution plan;
• Rewriting the Taylor Law and Triborough Amendment to give school districts the power to negotiate fiscally responsible agreements, and truly control these costs;
• Enabling school districts to reserve funds for mandated Teachers’ Retirement System pension contributions;
· Repealing the Wicks Law so that schools can bid out capital projects at competitive rates;
· Reforming tenure so school districts have the ability to assemble a workforce based on talent, effectiveness and a strong work ethic, rather than one that is dictated by seniority or the existence of a civil service list;
· Enabling school districts to assess local needs for transportation by amending section 3635 of the Education Law as was proposed in 2009 by ASSEMBLY Bill Number: A 01244 and SENATE Bill Number: S 1597-A.
“With these legislative changes, school districts would be better able to control costs, thereby offering real and sustainable tax relief to our and all New York communities. Please support these comprehensive reforms now. New York’s students and future depend on it.”
Board of Education
Cindy Cardinal, President
Carlo Prinzo, Vice President
Pat Aitken, Trustee
Craig Anderson, Trustee
Regina Rule, Trustee
Ms. Rule continued, “In this uncertain environment, the board and the administration are reviewing details related to the Superintendent’s preliminary working budget, which will become public on Saturday, March 5 at a Board Work Session. The challenge for the 2011-2012 budget is dealing with and addressing the significant increases in pension and health care contributions. If reductions of $1-$1.5 million become necessary, then some programs that we are currently offering would regrettably need to be reduced or eliminated. The public is welcome at all budget presentations. The calendar is available on the district website.”