The Board of Education (BOE) seems unable to appreciate that the budget defeat was not simply the public's angry reaction to its deceptive and disastrous handling of the Gluckin embezzlement. Their years of minimal oversight allowed flawed systems to flourish that permitted millions of dollars to disappear without a trace, without even being missed. No checks or balances were in place that might have prevented not just the theft of millions but also the purchasing of cars and other perks. Did they exhibit sound judgment when they permitted Gluckin's niece, who worked as a clerk for Gluckin, to remain in that capacity after they dismissed Gluckin for embezzlement in 2002? Read BOE member Pat Schissel's self-serving letter in last week's Roslyn News to learn how blind sighted this board has been by Dr. Tassone, even going along with his suggestion to reject their attorney's opinion to report the felony. It is alleged that Ms. Schissel is the recipient of a school computer (and I have heard of years of paid cell phone, cable and Internet access) in a secret arrangement made with Gluckin and Tassone but unknown to the rest of the board, including its president. She of all people should have suspected that administrators capable of such deceptive practices could be guilty of far more. She was offered small items and quietly took them while they helped themselves to much bigger pieces of the pie. So much for her misplaced righteous indignation.
This BOE needs to be dissolved because they failed to act with fiscal prudence and responsibility resulting in school taxes that will be escalating for years to come. Like pigs at a trough, the BOE has gorged itself on the ever-increasing funding this community has fed them year after year. Never satisfied without asking for more each year, this board, in its gluttony and under the thumb of Tassone, negotiated such outrageous contracts that we'll be paying higher and higher taxes in the future just to maintain them - health and dental benefits, life insurance, retirement and pension funding not to mention salaries that are off the charts! Why are we paying a summer program receptionist $21/hour? Why was Gluckin's niece, a clerk, earning $50,000 per year? Why is our superintendent the highest paid in the State? Why are we paying a public relations firm thousands of dollars to defend the board's actions from the very people they were elected to serve? Those funds need to go to the students, not to defending their reputation in the community. Why hasn't this BOE recognized the need to scale back and prioritize?
This board, bamboozled by Dr. Tassone, adopted budget cuts designed necessarily to have the greatest impact directly on pupils. When the initial budget was voted down, the proposed cuts were not in administration or the summer program (over a third of a million dollars for 19 days), recreation programs (over a quarter of a million dollars), cars, free gasoline for certain administrators, catering for senior staff, travel, or conferences. But not one teacher should be cut, not one club shut, not one school academic program altered until there is no other fat to trim elsewhere!
This board needs to realize that this community now is demanding complete transparency and accountability in the budgetary process. We want exact numbers and details regarding all expenditures. Instead, we are treated to a "dumbing down," beginning with a 53-page budget with no year-to-date or prior year actual figures or specific, itemized expenditures. Keeping Roslyn taxpayers in the dark, the BOE has managed only to divide this community into fractious factions.
It's time that taxpayers organize and demand that the board resign for abdicating their fiduciary responsibilities, for negotiating contracts with extravagant salaries and benefits, and for showing greater allegiance to Pamela Gluckin than to the people they swore to represent. The time has come for this BOE, whose credibility has been lost, to leave. This community needs to heal and start fresh.
Taxed to the Max