Friday, 15 January 2010 00:00
Are we, the residents of this fine town, the victims of poor decision-making and speculative, inaccurate accounting or are we being consistently deceived and subsequently coerced into voting one way or the other by school district officials? I don’t know for sure, but more importantly, does it matter? When the competence or honesty of such individuals comes into question, we owe it to ourselves to take a step back, look at the facts and consider our options.
*Last year (2008), the main vote that was shoved down our throats was related to our “crumbling, unsafe schools.” When I asked the superintendent how the district had arrived at such high roof repair estimates, he said, “The estimates came from an architect.” I have quite a few good friends who are architects–they don’t do roofing job estimates. What about money that is left over? “It will be retained by the district to go towards other expenses,” he said. Wasn’t that the same year the district wanted to buy a residential house on Memorial Place? Maybe their architect told them it was a good investment.
*The district sold our bus fleet of 39 vehicles for $311,000 (average price of just $8,000 per vehicle!) but now claims it could cost $5,400,000 to replace them with 55 vehicles (almost $100,000 per unit) for a difference of 1,200 percent. Our buses could have sold for more on eBay. New buses, even the big 70-passenger yellow school buses, do not cost $100,000. Who did they go to for THAT estimate?
*We have to reinstate and retroactively pay our former bus drivers, but we just voted to continue to use Huntington Coach for transportation. If the “drivers” won’t be driving, what will they do besides get paid? Roof repair comes to mind. It is just par for the course, since we also have teachers in our district who don’t teach. I know of one, but have been told there are others, that were so chronically insulting and hostile towards students that they were basically banned from regular teaching positions, yet we are paying their full salaries. Is it too late to FIRE a bully? Instead of losing their teaching certification, the district rewarded these teachers with nonsense jobs. Their salaries, benefits and retirement will cost us how much? Perhaps another concerned citizen will pick up that ball and run with it, but I digress...
This is not just about buses. It is about decisions that are being made FOR us, not by us. It is about ethics, disclosure and our money. If we were lied to or misled about finances or legal matters in any way, then all bets are off. Any and all votes that were cast based on intentionally misleading or incomplete information should be considered null and void, dating back to when it all started (2005?). I have also read that memos from the previous law firm involved with the bus fiasco are being withheld due to “attorney-client privilege.” That’s outrageous…and very suspicious. If our money was spent to retain those attorneys, folks, then WE (all Manhasset residents) are the real client in that relationship!
None of us should ever have to question whether our school tax dollars are being used inappropriately or if our district is lying to us. When I hear that the district has been distorting figures and “hiding” money, however, it raises a big red flag. Now stories are changing too. Anything is possible–just ask any resident of Roslyn what happened in their district not long ago. Don’t sit back and expect everyone else to do the right thing. If you don’t take action now and your school taxes go up 25 percent over the next four years, you have nobody to blame but yourself. You don’t need torches and pitchforks, just a phone and a few minutes of your time. Call the Nassau County District Attorney at 1-516-571-3505 and ask for them to open up an investigation. Then call the State Comptroller at 1-888-672-4555 and ask for an audit of the district’s financial records. “Checks and balances” can be defined as more than just what you find in the district’s coffers.