You would have thought that we, the residents of the Roslyn School District (RSD), would have learned our lessons from the "Tassone theft debacle." I guess not. The RSD is about to be financially pummeled like never before because of a number of coinciding financial events outside the control of the RSD and the Roslyn School Board (RSB) whose collective prospective impact gives new meeting to the term "perfect financial storm." The Roslyn community's financial ability to weather multiple years of prospective potentially double digit school tax increases (and higher tax levy increases) given the global recession, and the more local and painful financial tsunamis affecting NY state and Nassau county is questionable at best. Why has the current RSB chosen to sit on their hands and ignore financial reality and why is the current Central Administration all too happy to partner in this dance of the non-transparent and fatally flawed school budget.
Please take a moment to look at the RSD official website (www.Roslynschools.org). Read Superintendent Richman's most recent letter to the community. His attempt at budget misdirection by trying to lull the reader into a sense of financial relief by touting a 1 percent proposed budget increase (when comparing "budget to budget") is amateurish. Many of us have been asking the superintendent and his business office staff to share current year actual (2008-2009) vs. proposed year budget (2009-2010) information for the past six months but our requests have been ignored.
Why does the superintendent in his most recent letter to the community make a statement that, "In addition to voting on the school budget on May 19, residents will be asked to approve a special ballot measure, which carries no tax increase, to enable the community to continue its investment in its school facilities." Who is kidding who? Does he really believe that this community has forgotten the huge Capital Budget Referendums of the recent past that we were asked to pass that were funded by our hard earned tax dollars over and above the regular school budget funding? Can you find anywhere on the official RSD website where the community is being kept financially abreast of the multi-million dollar spending that is being carried out under cover of the Capital Expenditures budget?
Why does the superintendent in his most recent letter to the community make a statement that: "Anything less meant reducing expenditures, which we have done in a wide range of areas, from staffing to employee benefits to equipment and supplies." I challenge each of you to find me a place in the proposed 2009-2010 budget where employee benefits were reduced. Mind you reducing staff and their corresponding health benefits does not constitute "reducing benefits."
Can you find any information about the known prospective budget spikes in "defined benefit pension funding obligations" and in health insurance premium funding, or in prospective year potential reductions in state aid to the RSD? No? Guess why? They (the Central Administration) chose not to post this information to the official RSD website because then the community would better understand what I am so concerned about with respect to the RSD's future financial stability.
Can you find the minutes for any Budget Advisory Committee (BAC) meetings for the past year?
No? Guess why? This RSB has succeeded in neutering all community advisory committees by making sitting school board members as chairmen of these committees and in control of all information in and out of each committee. The BAC has lost many previous capable community participants because they came to the quick realization that the current RSB chairmen for the BAC is keen on censorship, on limiting the ability of the BAC to extract meaningful comparative financial information from the business office, and on severely limiting the ability of the BAC to communicate meaningful budget related suggestions/contributions to the school board. How can we in good conscience allow this RSB member to be re-elected?
Have you read any of the RSB meeting minutes posted on the website? RSB meeting minutes are supposed to be factual, comprehensive, and allow the reader to get a reasonable accurate picture of what took place at the meeting. That is not the case in the RSD. Please read the October 30, 2008 RSB meeting minutes about President Kline's involvement with the Superintendent's supplemental performance bonus and you will see firsthand why I am so concerned that our community is intentionally being deceived by a RSB with an agenda inconsistent with what is in the best interest of the Roslyn community and its children.
What is going on with our community's educational and school budget development process? What are we getting for spending in excess of $27,000 per student? Why are we allowing this educational financial steamrolling to continue? What happened to RSD financial and operational transparency? Why aren't more of you concerned about where your school tax dollars are being spent? Where are the answers? Time is running out and we will only have ourselves to blame.