Our library board has again succeeded in keeping its budget increase (3.4 percent) below Long Island's inflation rate. Our Library Board and Director deserve our thanks. Board member Rita Santelli, running for re-election, will get my vote on April 10.
Unfortunately, our school district is again proposing a budget increase $2 million above inflation. Their proposed budget increase of 5.5 percent means a tax increase of about 6.5 percent. If this were a rarity, it wouldn't be so bad. But it's not-it's typical. Unfortunately for the past 25 years, our school district has done this each and every year, with increases in the budget and per pupil spending averaging 70 percent above inflation. If this continues, taxes will double again in 11 years.
I believe Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gordon and the BOE members are good people trying to do their best. The problem is that at every BOE meeting, they face an audience comprised almost completely of school employees and parent group leaders, all of whom want more spending. Few if any ordinary taxpayers show up at these meetings. I suppose they're busy working hard to pay their enormous tax bills.
Recently, I met with Dr. Gordon and suggested specific areas to reduce the budget to the inflation rate without harming educational quality. It would require some teachers to work a little harder. Specifically, there are more than 300 sections at Weber and Schreiber with an average of 16 students per class (regular classes, not special-ed). By increasing these to 23-25 students per class, we'd save $2 million annually. Additional savings are possible by getting 20 hrs./week of classroom teaching at Schreiber instead of the current 17 hours. With average teacher compensation at $120,000 ($90,000 salary + $30,000 in benefits), is that unreasonable? If any Port resident wants to get on our mailing list, send your name and address (home, email or both) to PWEA, PO Box 203 here in Port. One more thing- be sure to vote No on the budget on May 15.
Frank J. Russo, Jr.
Pres., Port Wash. Educational Assembly (PWEA)