I want to express my appreciation and thanks to the Westbury School District for implementing a “community school” at the Westbury Middle School, a provided after school program. It is refreshing to observe and experienced personnel who are working hard and showing that they really care about our children.
At the community school, various activities are being offered to our children, including book club, recreation, chess, fencing, guitar, robotics, dance, homework help and more. This offering has helped our children in countless ways, such as keeping our children safe after school, helping them with homework, providing children with self-esteem and developing respect for peers and others. Without the community school, some children may be getting into trouble or causing mischief after school when unsupervised.
With the Westbury Performing Arts Center opening its doors this fall, I can’t remember a more exciting time for residents.
I remember the buzz in Carle Place surrounding the fire department’s 100-year anniversary carnival and fireworks celebration in July 2010. Aside from the annual Carle Place Little League picnics at Eisenhower Park, I can’t recall a gathering of that magnitude with so many familiar faces.
That is what Chip Zaino, Sr. said to me when I was first elected to the board. The statement is profound as it is simple. The fact is that we cannot get a better community without a better school district and the citizens of the community are responsible for their school district.
When Governor Cuomo signed New York’s first property tax cap in June 2011, it came as welcome relief for thousands of voters in Nassau County, which according to Forbes, has the highest property taxes in the state and the fourth highest property tax rates in the entire nation. The tax cap placed a 2 percent limit on how much property tax would be allowed to increase (up to 2.2 without achieving a supermajority on budget vote) and although the plan would not go into effect until the 2012-2013 school year, the consensus among some voters, was that it was well worth the wait. I say some voters, because as the reality of the situation began to sink in, others took a more critical and realistic look at the long-term effect this could have on school districts, towns and villages.
A sop is a thing normally of minor value, which is given or done to please someone or a group who are angry or disappointed and they are normally thought to have little or no power. In this instance, the group with little or no power is the residents of Westbury School District.
The Westbury School Board has decided that a sop of .48 percent is to be given from 2.48 percent or that $112,098,000 is enough to pacify Westbury residents. In their opinion, they, the Westbury School Board, knows what is best for us and what we can afford. They decided in May 2011 to deny an extension to Dr. Clark-Snead but did not announce this until January 2012, six months later. If they should decide to use a search firm, it could take up to a year and cost over $20,000.
The Westbury Board of Education began working in December 2011 with practical precision, sound financial direction and much deliberation in order to produce the 2012-2013 school budget.
This budget reallocates, consolidates and eliminates district positions. For the past month, the Westbury community has been faced with letters from residents regarding the upcoming budget vote. Although we don’t entirely concur with these residents, we certainly respect the fact that we exist in an era of freedom of speech and we would have it no other way. However, our constituency elected us to represent this community and as a part of our responsibilities we would like to go on record with our position regarding the decision to present a 2 percent tax levy to our community. It has been implied that the Westbury Board of Education and district personnel are not sensitive to the taxpaying residents in our community. Let us not forget the contributions our instructional and administrative staffs have made to assist in meeting the challenges of our financial crisis in education and at the same time the board of education has painstakingly reviewed areas for consolidation and elimination.
You would expect an organization created for public benefit that is largely led by government officials would be obligated to report to the public about its activities. Yet the Research Foundation of the State University of New York (SUNY) and its many campus foundations are not required to do so and apparently feel no such compulsion to share information with the public. Instead, these organizations often cloak their activities in secrecy.
As president of United University Professions – the union representing academic and professional faculty at SUNY’s state-operated campuses – I think it’s time to let the sun shine in. It’s time to require the SUNY Research Foundation and campus foundations to be held accountable and to be more transparent.
Our brilliant Supreme Court Justices do not live in the real world. They live in the ivory or at least marble tower of the Supreme Court, far removed from the streets, precincts and jails where arrests are made. Our justices need to descend from their lofty positions in the high court and come into our neighborhoods, riding shotgun with defense lawyers and even law enforcement to see what life in the real world is like. Their learning curves seem to have stopped once confirmed.
I enjoyed your article “Through Tim, All Things Are Possible” because you are one of the few scribes that seem to recognize that not only Mark Sanchez but also Tim Tebow has another year of maturity in their early NFL career.
In reality, Mark has had three and a half training camps with his coaches and Tim had only half a training camp with his Broncos’ coaches and that as the third-stringer!
I refuse to be swayed by Superintendent Clark-Snead’s rhetoric of “it is for the children,” or “our children deserve the same things as other communities give theirs.” This time around I refuse to be taken advantage of by voting against my best interest and that of my family by voting in favor of any school tax increase. I am telling my neighbors to vote against the proposed school tax of 2.48 percent or $112,098.000.
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