Our average school budget increases in Westbury have been less than 5 percent from year to year. The primary revenue sources are New York State, the federal government, you - the residents of Westbury, and the commercial property owners.

Taxpayers locally provide 65 percent of the funding for our children's education according to the data provided by the Westbury Union Free School District. During a school board meeting in December 2008, Superintendent Dr. Constance Clark-Snead announced a deficit of $338,000 for the 2009-2010 school year. With this information as a backdrop, the worldwide economic crisis will impact Westbury.

Both Governor David Paterson and President Barack Obama have indicated there will be cuts in funding, including to schools. The issue now is by how much and how this will impact Westbury schools.

This economic crisis has come to Westbury and more than likely it will be worse than stated by either the governor or President Obama. Our task, since we are the major providers, is to lessen the impact of the economic crisis before, during and after we become affected.

This is not a time to increase committing our dwindling budgets to projects not directly impacting our children's education. Nor is it a time to cut jobs or fail to meet contractual obligations.

A moratorium should be imposed upon spending now, prior to any action taken by the New York State or federal governments.

By us preparing for the worst case scenarios, we, as a community, will be better off during the crisis and thereafter.

Here is one option, based upon our present financial condition.

As previously stated, we have $120,000 from Coca Cola pouring rights in the Westbury School assets. Rather than using this money for constructing a VIP press box for the school board trustees and administration staff, it perhaps may be a better idea to use the money to decrease the present deficit by one-third to $218,000.

Another option would be for this $120,000 to be held in reserve until both the New York State and the federal government have made final decision regarding their funding intentions to Westbury. Normally, this funding decision becomes public in May.

I cannot imagine how we, the trustees on the Westbury School Board, would saddle Westbury with deficit spending and unnecessary debt, taking away jobs from the people of Westbury.

However, when spending cuts are necessary, those cuts should begin with the following: Non-Union Administration Staff - Pay Freeze. Also, reduction or elimination of the following district expenses: Consultants (presently 24); Lobbyists (present cost is $170,000/year - two firms - Washington DC and New York); Public Relations Firm (presently $63,000/year);

Graduation at C.W. Post (current cost $7,000/year); and Outsourced Security (current cost $165,000).

In summary, I am of the opinion that Westbury is being poorly served when its seated school board, of which I am a trustee, is willing to even entertain frivolous spending with such wanton disregard of the economic condition, existing deficit, ten consecutive years of statistically placing in the lowest quadrant of educational proficiency as published by Newsday, and while 85 percent of the student population (per Superintendent Dr. Constance Clark-Snead) are below the poverty level.

Larry Wornum
Westbury Board of Education

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