Friday, 22 February 2013 00:00
Just across Nassau’s Western border, a crisis is brewing in New York City over a school bus strike. The city is trying to cut costs by contracting out school busing to private companies. Bus drivers, members of Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, are fighting in this tough economy to keep the job protections they currently have. Even though our busing here in Nassau is far more decentralized, our local school districts are facing the same fiscal pressures, and our bus drivers depend just as much on their jobs as their counterparts in New York City. So how do we make sure we don’t end up in the same situation?
In my experience, the typical governmental approach to balancing budgets when faced with a shortfall is firing staff or raising taxes. But that’s a losing game on both sides of the equation. Instead, we need to look forward, plan smartly and find efficiencies in the system to save jobs, preserve services and avoid raising taxes.
People may view this as a simplistic, pie-in-the sky approach to a very complex problem, but I know we can do it. That’s because we’ve already done it in Roslyn.
By law, school districts must provide students with bus service, even to a private school, if that school is within 15 miles of the school district. With 127 public schools on Long Island and nearly twice as many private schools, the cost of administering this district-by-district adds up quickly.
In Roslyn, we decided to try a different approach. I conducted a study of all the public school districts that border Roslyn to find the cost each district paid for out of district busing of private school students. We found a huge disparity in what neighboring districts paid to private vendors to send students to private schools, with differences in cost among neighboring districts as high as $20,000 per student. Seeing an opportunity for savings, Roslyn now has a successful pilot program in which we partner with two neighboring districts. It’s a win-win and the money stays in the school system, as opposed to paying a private vendor. Replicated Island wide, this busing initiative could save well over $10,000,000 annually.
Frankly, there’s no reason not to do this. The 2011 Property Tax Cap Legislation authorizes New York State school districts to enter into inter-municipal partnerships like this. BOCES is required to provide regional transportation services, which means they can step in on routes that may not make sense to other districts. Reducing the amount of time spent on the bus is good for students, and there will be no loss of funding from NYS if schools work together.
Beyond busing, all services should be examined for efficiencies before governments even consider outsourcing. But for school transportation, bus drivers just want to do their jobs. School districts just want to save money. If we’re willing to think differently and act accordingly, we can achieve both.
(Ed. Note: The author is a Democratic Party candidate for Nassau County Executive.)
Thursday, 23 May 2013 00:00
The Roslyn High School girls’ lacrosse squad ended the regular season playing the same consistent ball they had all year. In early May, the Lady Bulldogs topped both Wheatley and Great Neck North, while losing a close match to conference rival MacArthur.
The Lady Bulldogs finished the year with a sterling 10-5 mark overall and a 5-4 winning record in Conference IV play.
Thursday, 23 May 2013 00:00
Old Westbury Gardens recently held its 11th Annual Taste of Spring on the grounds of the Phipps Estate, a gold coast mansion built in 1906. More than 300 people attended, drinking a variety of wines and dining on gourmet hot foods served up by local chefs. One of the favorites was a chicken with peas topped with a fragrant winter lavender sauce cooked by Jeff Lawton. Other delicacies included duck, gnocchi, tacos, meatballs, prime rib, baked brie, and quiche followed by an assortment of chocolate desserts and crème Brule.
Long Island notables were also in attendance including author Nelson DeMille and Peter Tilles, a prominent developer. As guests mingled they also were treated to a special show of vintage bridal gowns staged throughout the house, many of the dresses dating back to the 1900’s and some worn by member of the Phipps family.
Proceeds from the event and the silent auction went toward the estate. Beverage and tasting sponsors included Banfi Vintners, Bryant and
Cooper Steak House, Chi, Dessert Diva, Elegant Affairs Catering, Jeff Lawton Catering, La Bottega, Robbins Wolfe Eventuers and Sterling Affair Caterers.
Friday, 17 May 2013 00:00
Fifteen members of the Green Vale Pacers, a girls’ running club, ran the 5K Race of the Long Island Marathon held at Eisenhower Park on May 4. All fifteen finished the race and a few finished at the top of their age divisions and within the top ten for all 354 female racers.
Friday, 10 May 2013 00:00
Fifteen Wheatley High School students have been recognized by the Nassau County Interscholastic Athletic Association for their exceptional performance in athletics, scholarship and leadership qualities for the winter 2012-2013 season. All winter teams were recognized as NYS Scholar/Athlete Team Award winners. The Boys Indoor Track team was crowned NYS State Scholar Athlete Team Champions. The Boys Varsity Basketball team won the Nassau County Class B Championship.