I'd like to thank the many residents in the Port Washington community for their support and votes in this recent school election.
Although I did not get elected, I am very pleased that my slate-mate, Pat Foye was elected and am also pleased with how our message resonated. I am very proud of the race we ran and the acceptance of the message that Pat, Roger, and I offered.
I am also very happy that the budget passed--and handily. We encouraged all to vote for it and helped to bring out the pro-budget vote. I wish I could personally thank the many individuals and groups who supported our message of reform, of dedication to the children, of educational excellence, and that we owe it to the taxpayers and to the children that the dollars we get must be used wisely and efficiently for them. Ours was, and is, a pro-child, pro-teacher, pro-taxpayer message. This message can be delivered through the application of good business practices and operating efficiencies in the district.
We may not always have a situation where all the candidates are pro-budget. For both the taxpayers and for the school kids who are the beneficiaries of better business practices, we must move forward on business reform. And, yes, our school district is a business--albeit with a tender mission--the education and welfare of our children.
One of the most important business practices in need of improvement is our capital expenses ("CapEx") plan--that is, the long-term plan for the maintenance of buildings and facilities. In addition to the $68 million of new facilities which we invested in with the last bond, we have the far greater pre-existing facilities that we must now maintain as well. This year's budget has an allocation of just $500,000 for CapEx. All involved recognize that this amount is nowhere near what these facilities require--even if one were to exclude the Manorhaven, Sousa, and Weber roofs which need to be replaced. Failure to plan will lead to (much) more expensive repairs, an unpleasant and potentially hazardous environment, and the loss of confidence by the voters in school leadership.
In order to avoid these CapEx dollars being taken from classroom and extra-curricular budgets, the district will need to finish a long-term CapEx plan that looks out at least 15 years and which makes provisions, financially and otherwise, for where these funds will come from. These are our buildings and facilities. They are the assets of the voters and residents of Port. We must plan appropriately so we can maintain them as cost effectively as possible and give our children a reasonable environment in which to learn and play. We must also learn to trust the residents and share our plans and problems with them. This is a financially sophisticated community and I believe Port will broadly support well-laid plans. It is clear that very large segments of the community have heard this message. I encourage the board and the administration to move forward more strongly on the issues of business practices reform.
Last, but not least, I'd like to congratulate Larry Greenstein and Roy Nelson on their re-election, thank both Pat Foye and Roger Lifson for running a great race, and recognize them for the wonderful individuals they are.
Running for school board has been a personally rewarding endeavor and an incredible experience in democracy. I am pleased that we have had a material and positive impact on the debate and subject of school issues.