Friday, 11 May 2012 00:00
For many years, Long Island school taxes increased at two and three time the rate of inflation. They are now the highest in the entire country. With great fanfare, a tax cap was recently signed into law, but unfortunately, when the dust has settled, we may find that it did more harm than any good it achieved.
Contracts with New York teachers’ unions have long provided step increases, a feature that guarantees annual salary increases for many of those employed. Thanks to the Taylor Law’s Triborough Amendment, these annual increases continue indefinitely, even when a contract has expired.
This acts like an engine continually forcing school spending ever upward. And the increases demanded, are much larger than can be accommodated under the cap. How will school districts deal with this? Some are beginning to trim programs and lay off teachers. A few others are asking voter approval for piercing the cap. Here in Massapequa, rather clever accounting is being employed.
For several years, the district budgeted and taxed us for more money than the schools actually spent. The surplus, almost $20 million was placed in reserves. This year, in order to operate within the cap, several million of the reserve funds were utilized and the plan calls for tapping reserves again next year.
Obviously, this can’t go on forever. When reserves have been exhausted, only three different actions seem possible:
• Reduce the teaching and administrative staffs and/or eliminate various programs;
• Get approval from the electorate to pierce the cap. Thus, sizable increases in spending and taxes would continue, or;
• The school board and the teachers’ union work out a new agreement providing a much-needed reduction in the upward salary spiral.
Parents and taxpayers would of course much prefer the previous option 3, but very likely, it will be difficult to achieve. Union leaders are usually in the business of asking for more. They seldom agree to less.
School employees have unions to represent them when labor contracts are negotiated. School boards are supposed to look after the interests of parents and taxpayers.
Dianne Sheffield and Joseph Marsh have lengthy periods of hands-on involvement. Moreover, they are educated, articulate, have children in the schools and have impressive backgrounds. They will have my votes.
Experience now seems very desirable. In Massapequa, the contract with hundreds of teachers is the single most important element in the district’s finances. Whoever is elected to the board on May 15, will immediately become involved in crucial negotiations.
On June 30, the present contract with the teachers union expires.
James E. Stubenrauch
Saturday, 08 March 2014 00:00
With kids today obsessed with all the latest electronic gaming gadgets — the Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo 3DS, and the like — you’d think that the comparatively antiquated concept of pushing a piece of plastic along a sheet of cardboard would be eschewed by your average teenager; however, judging by the crowd of kids at the Massapequa Public Library’s Board Game Café, this actually may not be the case.
Young Adult Services librarian Peter Cirona, who created the Board Game Café at the library’s Central Avenue branch (in addition to a whole host of other young adult programs), said that it’s a great way for kids to socialize and play some classic board games in a fun and friendly environment.
Friday, 07 March 2014 00:00
On Feb. 27, parents in the Levittown, East Meadow, Massapequa and Farmingdale school districts came together for an informal pannel discussion on the New York State Education Department and the implementation of the state Common Core Learning Standards. Panelists included New York State Assemblyman Thomas McKevitt, Jeanette Deutermann of the Long Island Opt Out Facebook page, and former public school teacher David Greene, who came to the Farmingdale Public Library to talk with local parents about key concerns and questions with the curriculum.
Outspoken parent and founder of the Long Island Opt Out movement, Deutermann, delved into some of the factors behind what led to the state’s adoption of the Common Core, and how the state education department cites High School graduation rates as its reasoning behind the curriculum.
Thursday, 06 March 2014 09:47
One of Major League Soccer’s top front office executives has many fond memories of growing up in the Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL). Bill Manning, the President of Western Conference champion Real Salt Lake and the club’s field, Rio Tinto Stadium, played for the LIJSL Select Team from 1979 to ‘83 as well as the Massapequa Soccer Club from 1972 to ‘83.
Manning’s Massapequa teams had virtually the same players from Under-10 to Under-19, but kept changing their name depending on who their coach was. He played for the Massapequa Flying Dutchmen (coached by Kurt Knoblauch), the Massapequa Bugs (Dick Roche), the Massapequa Cosmos (Jerry Lyons) and the Massapequa Bulls (coached by his father, also named Bill Manning). The Bulls might have lost in the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) State Open Cup finals to B/W Gottschee in overtime in 1983, but his teams won the LIJSL division championship in 1974, ‘76 and ‘79 plus the Long Island Cup in 1980 and ‘83.
Thursday, 27 February 2014 10:58
If the games were played on paper, Massapequa would’ve had no shot. The Chiefs faced a tall order last week playing Elmont, which boasted a 12-3 record and four premier scorers. They gave a tremendous effort, but ultimately had their season cut short, 69-62, despite Alex Cosenza leading the scoring with 29 points.
“I can’t ask for anything else from these guys,” said Head Coach Matt Voigt. “I am so proud of them. I applaud their efforts,”