(Editor's Note: The writer serves on the executive committee of the Nassau Conservative Party.)
We just received our school tax bills reflecting a tax increase of 12 percent. Over the past five years, school taxes have increased by 47 percent, or three times the inflation rate. A large part of the blame for this belongs with our school boards who made decisions on salary levels and numbers of employees that are wholly unwarranted. Our average teacher earns $89,000 per year, with an additional $25,000 in fringe benefits. The fact we have over 100 applicants for each opening strongly suggests we are paying more than necessary. In New York City, the opposite is true, where salaries are under $60,000 and positions are difficult to fill.
But the problem is not only due to our timid school boards; it's also due to our state legislators who, because they fear the teacher unions, fail to enact laws giving voters real control over their school taxes. State law should be changed to allow only one school budget vote, and, when defeated, budgets should be frozen at the prior year's level, not allowed to increase by up to 6 percent. Our legislature has failed us in other ways as well. They failed to enact legislation requiring all child abuse to be reported to law enforcement. Today only child abuse by parents has to be reported by "mandated reporters" (i.e., doctors, day care workers, etc.). Abuse by neighbors or friends, for example, is not required to be reported.
We know incumbents are almost always re-elected, and that will probably happen again. But if you want to send a message to give voters real control over school taxes, and you want all child abuse to be reported, please consider voting Row D for Conservative party candidates.
Frank J. Russo, Jr.