Thursday, 06 February 2014 00:00
In a recent article to The Westbury Times my good friend Larry Kirton touched on one of those “third rail” issues when he made reference to the land swap deal involving the North Hempstead Housing Authority, and the Town of North Hempstead in exchange for affordable housing in New Cassel. Third rail, because the term affordable housing often conjures up all sorts of speculation among people in some communities, and is an issue best avoided by politicians in sections of their constituencies in order to escape the wrath of voters at the polls.Kirton opined that if this deal goes through it would create yet another opportunity for this section of the school district to continue to overcrowd our schools. My recollection however, is that the terms of the deal is to provide affordable housing for senior citizens; not the general population, which in that case would not create the situation feared by Kirton.
But I believe the real issue is being sidestepped here, because it does not matter what section of the community the child resides, if he/she is a bona fide resident of the school district, they are entitled to an education provided by the school system, and if space is a problem, then it becomes a community problem. The real issue is being sidestepped because we reside in a high taxed, low wealth school district predicated on false premise that our elected officials allow to continue, because they fail to make the case to the powers that be in Albany, thereby allowing 75 percent of our annual school budgets to be property tax driven.
The real issue is that the school district is in need of new school buildings to replace the current deteriorating, inadequate structures, but the public is in no mood to consider new construction bonds to make this happen. The last time a bond referendum was floated by the district was in 2003, when a scale down version of the originally proposed $163 million (reduced to $79 million) went down to a crushing defeat at the polls in February of that year. Sadly, I believe little has changed since. The school system administration therefore must explore more creative ways to fund this project; something similar to QZAB (Qualified Zone Academy Bond) — the $28 million interest free bond that was overwhelmingly approved by the voters in October 2003.
QZAB money could not be used for new construction — renovation and repairs only. But that was 11 years ago, so who knows what programs are available now?