(The following letter was sent to the board of education and administration of the school district and is printed here at the writer's request.)
As you embark on formulating next year's school budget, I would like to submit for your serious consideration and implementation the following recommendations. It would be redundant to call your attention to the dire economic times we live in. Port Washington, regrettably, not being the exception. With that in mind, as the fiduciary trustees of our money, the moral and right thing for you to do under these circumstances is to freeze all salaries including those contractually mandated. They could be defrayed on a proportional basis over the next couple of years. Hopefully by then we'll be in an upswing of the economy. This, by no means, is an unusual step for you to take, given what is reported daily in the media about just such situations, including givebacks by unions. A perfect example of the latter is when a number of years ago the airlines pilots association and the machinists unions agreed to givebacks in order to keep the airlines flying. There are other such examples.
You are also requested to exercise optimum fiscal restraint and to take cost saving measures. An example of the latter is what I had suggested at one of the BOE meetings. Please dispense with myriad handouts, which cost a lot of money to generate. Put them on the district's website!
Taking BOE minutes longhand - having them printed and copied as a hand out - is archaic and costly! Please provide Mary Callahan a laptop and have the minutes also posted on the website. The services of expensive consultants should be curtailed, and in some cases eliminated all together. There should be enough in-house talent to negate the need for such outside services . Administrative/support staff should be reduced either by attrition or incentive retirement. Every effort should be made not to replace them but rather distribute their work among the remaining staff. This is the norm today in the business world. All one needs to do is to go into an office and see all of the empty work stations.
The functions of those no longer there have been taken up by the remaining work force. Today's necessary culture of "running lean and mean" is the norm. I respectfully submit that our school district is not immune to it. I am certain that you will find other areas of cost reduction and/or outright cost elimination. By taking these steps you will have demonstrated your sensitivity to fiscal responsibility with which you have been entrusted. Failure to take these measures will put the budget in jeopardy! Do keep in mind that a frozen or downsized salary is better than no salary at all! These are indeed extraordinary times in which we live, demanding extraordinary measures by extraordinary people. The Port Washington community will hold you in high esteem for your extraordinary budgetary restraints.