At this time we would like to thank all of the residents in the community who supported us in the recent school board elections. Although we were not successful, the fact that the budget passed certainly is a win for the children. We were able to stick to our objective of running a clean campaign so that we can proudly walk through the neighborhood with our heads held high and our integrity in tact.
With that being said, we would also like to point out to the community that there were some really amazing things that took place on election day in and around the polling sites. For starters, the budget vote and the electing of board officials are in and of themselves two separate issues. So the next time anyone employed by the district decides to do a little background investigating, just remember that when you call over to the mailing house inquiring as to who is paying for our mailings, "Westbury School Dist -876-5000" is going to show up on the caller ID. And as you're calling community members asking why they've decided to support persons other than the incumbents, remember you're at work and you're supposed to be working.
Any and all endorsement phone calls are to take place off school grounds. The sight of board members camped out in front of polling sites alongside those running for re-election would definitely be considered loitering at the polls. All of this is minor in comparison to the misrepresentation of a certain photograph in which a local town councilman, a Nassau County legislator and a local state assemblyman are seen holding a district brochure touting recent successes back on Legislator's Day. This harmless photograph was somehow turned into a flier, attached to literature endorsing the incumbent board members and distributed around the community.
The scene created at two of the four polling sites by the "block party" that was thrown was absolutely appalling. The only thing missing was the
elephant and the guy being shot out of a cannon. Other than that it was a complete circus atmosphere. Many people in the community, both those with kids in the district and not, senior citizens and young adults felt it was a little intimidating to say the least to have such a chaotic environment surrounding a polling place. The middle school's spring concert, which had been held in the past on the day of the vote, seemed to be a nice way to showcase some of the many talents of the children to people who usually don't get a chance to come to our schools. It also doesn't encourage the kind of chaotic atmosphere and loitering at the polling sites that we saw this year.
Now the icing on the cake came when a SUV pulled up in front of the polling site on school grounds with a bullhorn mounted to the top blasting a tape recorded looped message made by someone who claims to have their finger on the pulse of the community. I'm quite certain that this "community activist" would have a hard time telling anyone about any of the many programs and services being offered in the schools today. Now, although this common tactic is quite legal on the streets within the boundaries of the Town of North Hempstead, the middle school is located within the village, so different rules apply. And once you pull the vehicle onto school property right in front of the door where voting is taking place, you have just violated election polling site rules.
As we all may or may not know, all candidates are required to submit affidavits expensing their monies spent on the election. So since this little "outing" was basically used as a last ditch rally for the incumbent members, are they now required to claim the money spent on the festivities on their expense report? Was it the school district's intent to gain support for the budget or to make sure certain people got back on the board?
One can only wonder what the motives are when information regarding the budget is deliberately withheld from the community; we had no budget advisory committee that included community members, and in this day of information technology that as a district we are a part of, the complete itemized budget was never made available to the community through the district website like it is in many places. How many of the 911
people who voted "yes" and the 822 people that voted "no" can say they saw the actual expenditures that were being voted on?
No, that makes far too much sense. What seems to work a lot more effectively in "our" communities is to give as little information as possible, hope nobody asks anything and then get these local "clowns" to go around and tell people that they know what's good for them. It has to be the ultimate insult to think that a group of people do not have the ability to digest information and make an informed decision based on the material they were given. What would really be interesting would be to have exit polling questions asking people to name two items that will directly be
addressed/affected by the money they just agreed to spend or not spend.
The misconception that if you vote against the budget you're anti-education and if you vote for it you're for the kids is ridiculous. Where and how the money is to be spent is a major factor in determining whether the current spending plan is wise or not. By the district's own admission not a single job, after school club, extra-curricular activity, or educational program would have been lost if the current plan was not approved.
Maybe the district can lean on the "local savior" and get him to take his little show on the road and go up to Albany and fix the state aid funding formula so we can get our fair share. He seems to be able to do
most anything, right? To get an explanation to these troubling issues, all members of the community should attend the next school board meeting at the high school on June 15 at 7:30 p.m.
Rod Bailey and Scott Ottley
Westbury Board of Education candidates