Opinion

Last year our school budget increase was 5.4 percent. The total tax levy increase for all 4 classes of property, because of increased state aid, was "only" 4.9 percent. However, what you may not know was that the residential tax increase was actually 5.8 percent. The reason it increased more than the average was because the commercial tax levy declined by 1 percent. Mind you, I'm not objecting to this because commercial property still pays a disproportionately higher part of our school taxes than their share of property values. My point is this---should this shift between commercial and residential occur again this year, and because state aid may not increase as it did last year, then any budget increase this year could result in a residential tax increase 1- 2 percent greater than our budget increase, which is currently at 6.6 percent.

What I have also learned over the past six months is that our school administration was literally not aware of the actual employee headcounts for this year, nor will they admit the huge employee increase over the past two years. Based on data from our PWSD for 2005-06, further supported by NYSED data, we've added 80+ employees over the past two years. In addition, based on NYSED web site data, we now have 100 teachers, guidance counselors and paraprofessionals more than the average Nassau school district, after adjusting for the number of students. The net cost attributable to these employees over and above the Nassau average is $7,500,000. In other words, if we had the same number of employees as other Nassau school districts, adjusted for number of students, we'd see no budget increase. But our school administration will not even acknowledge these facts.

Because our school administration continues to deny these facts in numerous emails and statements at board meetings, I'd like to invite Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gordon, any board member, or anyone of their choosing, to discuss in a fair and respectful manner these, and other key facts which suggest excessive and wasteful spending in our school district. This discussion can be held in the Port Washington public library at a meeting open to the public with all data and other evidence made available for anyone to review and determine who is speaking the truth, and who is not. The PWEA has reserved the Latham meeting room at the library for Thursday, April 24, from 7 to 9:30 p.m. I ask Dr. Gordon, or BOE President Rob Seiden, to let me know if they would like to accept this offer to publicly discuss the facts at hand which I honestly believe point to excessive spending in our school district, causing us to have the 4th highest cost per pupil ($23,000) of 29 Long Island school districts with 4,000 students or more.

Frank J. Russo, Jr.

President,

Port Washington Educational Assembly


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