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Letter: Manhasset Teachers, Staff Step Up

In response to the failed budget vote on May 21, the Superintendent’s office and the Board of Education have spent the last two weeks drilling down on the numbers to craft a 2013-14 revised budget that seeks, as the priority, to protect the quality of the Manhasset Public Schools’ academic curriculum. The revised budget, which results in a 1.97 percent tax levy increase (in contrast to the prior proposed 5.98 percent tax levy increase) reflects reductions, concessions and compromises across the board. Every aspect of the budget has been reviewed, and aspects that could be tweaked without destroying the core have been tweaked, including costs relating to administration, teachers, and before and after school programs and activities (including interscholastic athletics and clubs) that will impact each of the elementary schools, the middle school, and the high school.

Accepting reductions in programs that, in the past, have played a major role in molding our community’s children and their ability to not only think but interact in a cooperative and meaningful way is difficult—particularly for those students who have progressed through our elementary schools and eagerly awaited those opportunities, and for those families who moved to Manhasset to provide their children with those opportunities. The election results spoke volumes, and now we must move forward.

The superintendent and the board have listened and responded with a revised proposal that hopefully can enlist the support of all. To do that, we must come back together as a community. We must not fixate on the loss of a specific teacher, class or program. Rather, we must concentrate on the big picture—protecting and sustaining the Manhasset Public Schools, which nurture and educate our children; and protecting the value of our homes.

To that end, our administrators, teachers, custodians and other staff have stepped up and given of themselves to support our children and help the board achieve the revised budget. The staff gave back more than $332,000 to which they were entitled under contracts endorsed by the community just one year ago; nine staff members have accepted early-retirement packages, and cuts to administrative and clerical staff will amount to an additional $585,645 in additional cost reductions. Critical dollars now can be redeployed to maintain the quality of our curriculum and salvage as best as we can the before and after school programs that have become integral to a Manhasset education.

By stepping up to the plate, school employees—the very people to whom families in the past, today, and in the future have entrusted and will entrust our children’s education and safety—have reminded us of a lesson that should resonate in Manhasset: there is no “I” in “team.” Manhasset must be united as “we.” Everybody has to give a little to achieve what’s best for the community. Our educators have done just that.

On Tuesday, June 18, the polls will reopen. This time, there is a modified, and significantly reduced, proposed revised budget that for many will be disappointing because it eliminates funding for many of the things we have come to expect; however, the revised budget reflects an open acknowledgment of the many voices that have spoken, and strives to maintain, protect ,and build upon the values that we all hold dear.

Whether you are an empty-nester, a parent, a Manhasset graduate, or current student, our schools have in some way, big or small, positively touched you. Please join the “we team” and vote Yes.

Ariana Tadler Paterson