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Letter: Pay It Forward

The Manhasset Press interview with Superintendent of Schools Charles Cardillo was—to use his own word—disappointing. It stated that if the voters did not vote “yes” to his budget cap busting budget, then all of the school “extra” activities would be immediately cut. It seemed to be this standard, tired, age-old veiled threat for us to pay or our children would not be allowed to play. He is right, a district such as Manhasset deserves better. Is this what we expect from our school board leadership?

For 30+ years we have heard and read the tired and stock argument that we must vote “yes” on every budget no matter what the increase is because it is “for the children” and if we did not all “extra activities” would be cut. We are constantly told that Manhasset has the most dedicated teachers who do everything for our children. We are also told that 80 percent of the budget is controlled by State mandates and Union contract demands so that only leaves 20 percent of the budget for the administration and school board to work with. Any good business person or school board member who can’t work with an annual +2 percent increase, and still trim a little fat here and there in a budget to fund items that are deem important, needs to be replaced immediately. The school board members need to step up here and not just be bystanders.

Here is a new idea. We think it is time for the teachers and their union to “pay it forward” and step up as we have done for 30+ years always approving their requested annual tax increases (only denying them once that I recall). And when the budget is voted down, the system allows for a second bite at the apple to push “yes” again.  Every supporter of the Yes vote should ask our dedicated teachers to simply volunteer some of their free time to monitor the lunch room, to coach all sports, clubs and extra functions to save our children from being deprived of these activities. Before anyone says that the union contract demands won’t allow them to “pay to forward” please keep in mind that anyone, including our dedicated teachers are free to donate their time to our children. So now our dedicated teachers can prove to our children, our community and to their peers that they truly are the dedicated caring people that we are constantly told they are. It also would be a good leadership lesson for our children to see first hand what is required of everyone to “give back” to their community no matter who they are. Lets face it, it is a very small price for our teachers to pay given our legal financial obligation to support them for unlimited sick time, a guaranteed job for life, free health care for life once retired, six figure salaries, and with over three months vacation a year. Many Manhasset tax-paying residents would readily accept these “civil service” working conditions for themselves today given the economic issues we all face.

John Penn