On Thursday, Nov. 17, I attended a packed informative meeting sponsored by the Port Washington Education Assembly at the Port Washington Library. I was shocked to hear that the Port Washington School District must repay to NY State over $1.7 million in state aid to which we were entitled. Since paperwork on the local level was filed late or not at all to NY State, we now must return the state aid. The state has allowed the PWSD to return the lost school aid over a three-year period. This is why our recent school tax increase was 6.6 percent instead of 5.9 percent. It is most troubling that the board of education and the school administration knew we had to repay nearly $600,000 of the $1.7 million this year but failed to notify the taxpayers. Superintendent Gordon in his May 12 Myth vs. Reality letter on the PWSD website stated: "Myth - The budget increase...presented to voters is due to lack of local controls." He argued against this myth by speaking of unfunded mandates, pension contributions, etc.
The loss of $1.7 million in state aid due to filing required paperwork late or not at all is certainly due to a lack of local controls. Do we have any basis for recovery of this money from those who made the error? Why is the local taxpayer again being held accountable for this egregious loss of state aid entitlement?
In May 2003, the school district chose not to share the tax rate with taxpayers. An administrator stated: "I don't believe that they could understand it." Why does the school district continue to withhold information to taxpayers?
The PWEA is a welcome asset for demanding fiscal accountability while supporting academic excellence to the community at large.