(Ed.'s note: The following letter was sent to New York State Assemblyman Tom DiNapoli and is printed here at the writer's request.)
Thank you for your efforts in introducing bills to increase oversight of school district funds. (Port Washington News, 7/14) As a taxpayer, I want every tax dollar spent wisely and public trust in school districts restored. The highly publicized financial scandals in a few Long Island school districts have hurt not just the students and taxpayers in the towns in which they occurred. Unfortunately, districts in which school boards and administrators have worked diligently to voluntarily implement safeguards to prevent this type of abuse (such as Port Washington) are being unjustly punished and are not receiving the recognition and support that they deserve. While those who have betrayed the public trust should face serious consequences, why aren't those who uphold this trust positively recognized? Perhaps you and your colleagues in the State Assembly could help spread the word on the districts which are in fact doing a good job. Good news may not sell as many newspapers but it may help restore public confidence.
I also would like to ask that any new requirements imposed by the state be backed up with funds that will enable a district to comply. Local taxpayers simply can't be saddled with yet another unfunded mandate from the state. The defeat of 21 budgets on Long Island underscores the detrimental impact that these unfunded mandates have had on many local communities. While our volunteer school board members, along with our administrators have tried to provide children with a quality education with the resources they have, we simply need more help from the state. Port Washington is a diverse community with many residents facing financial hardship. Please work with your colleagues to ensure that our town receives the state aid it deserves. Our community, our schools and our children need your help.