On the East Williston School District Budget Vote

April 30, 2014

May 1, 2014

East Williston School District (EWSD) residents are annually requested to vote on a school budget and this year is no exception. Each voting member of the community will have an opportunity to either vote for or against the budget. Every parent, every senior, every taxpayer, and every youngster of voting age should consider what limited facts have been made available to them.

As many of you already know, I will vote NO on the budget. Why? I simply need to, once again, provide the readers with an earlier (2012) note delivered to Superintendent Kanas. Here is that unedited note:

Dear Dr. Kanas,

I believe that the following current problems are adversely affecting the East Williston School District (EWSD).

1. The per capita student cost is $30,000+/yr.
2. The student/teacher ratio is 9.75:1.0
3. The EWSD employs 21 secretaries.
4. There is rampant teacher absenteeism.
5. The failure of some students to attend the college/university of their choice.
6. The EWSD national ranking is in free-fall.
7. The school tax burden continues to increase despite reduced enrollment.
8. The lack of preparedness of some of the students for their post high school education.
9. The failure of the previous administration to, in accordance with the law, act on FOIL requests.

As a taxpayer and member of the EWSD community, I am requesting your assessment of the above nine problems, plus what steps you intend to take to either remove or reduce these problems. If a response is not received by October 1, 2012, I shall assume that you have concluded that there is no reason for concern. If you do respond, I would then appreciate a follow-up notification on the success/failure of your actions on or before December 31, 2012.

I await your response.

Guess what? Two years have passed, and I’m still waiting for a response.
One simple question: Do I deserve a response? Both Kanas and the present Board have chosen to ignore my request. Yet, unlike Kanas and the Board members, I’ve dedicated my life to education, serving as not only a professor and administrator at the College level but also as a member of the Admissions Committee. I also continue to provide free advice to those senior students requesting guidance (apparently there is little to no meaningful guidance presently available) on university and career choices.

A recent 4/7/14 article in Newsday reported that the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) voted in a new president who immediately commented on their “enemies.” I can’t figure out who she was talking about. Perhaps it was the schoolchildren and/or their parents. One member commented “This election has provided a great voice for the needs of members across the Island.” Naturally, there was no expression of concern about the needs of the schoolchildren.

You want more? Here’s a real beauty out of Newsday on the same day. The headline read:
EX-TEACHER KEEFE HONORED BY NYSUT. Here is the unedited article:

“David Keefe, a former eighth-grade social studies teacher who has devoted much of his retirement time to union activities, was honored Friday evening in Manhattan as New York State United Teachers Retiree Member of the Year. Following his 2004 retirement after a 37-year teaching career in Hempstead Public Schools, Keefe, 73, of Mineola, was elected to the board of trustees of the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System, for which he also serves as vice president.
For more than 20 years he was president of the Hempstead Classroom Teachers Association, assuming leadership positions for the retiree association for Hempstead educators following his own retirement.
Keefe’s work “is an extension of his lifelong commitment to serving union members,” said Kathleen Donahue, vice president of the state teachers union.”

For the uninformed, Keefe is a member of the EWSD Board. Anybody really think he’s there to represent the community? I can remember him laughing at me when I questioned him regarding his conduct, particularly securing full-time employment for his daughter. Appointments for Karen Love (Keefe’s daughter) made by the board since Keefe became a board member are listed below (he abstained from voting…apparently, that’s as far as his ethics go). Our remaining four elected Board members went right along with the appointments. In their infinite wisdom, they concluded that there was no conflict of interest and that Keefe’s conduct was serving the best interests of the community. All four appointments were made within a five-month period!!!

Sept. 19, 2011: Board Meeting. Agenda Item #32
School Monitor Part-time Substitute

Oct. 24, 2011: Board Meeting. Agenda Item #43
Cleaner Part-time Substitute

Jan. 18, 2012: Board Meeting. Agenda Item #33
Substitute Teacher

Feb. 13, 2012: Board Meeting. Agenda Item #37
Part-time School Monitor. (No longer a substitute!)

Who knows if she was given any other appointments in the last two years? Sometimes the agenda just refers to “list as submitted by” (either superintendent/principal/etc.) and names of those being appointed are not mentioned. One can only wonder what her pension will be!?!?!? Hopefully, some of the diehard supporters for the status quo will finally realize how Kamberg and his crew operate. In any event, an honorable man would have definitely disqualified himself from serving on the Board based on ethical and professional grounds.

Guess what? The Newsday article never mentioned that Keefe is a school Board member. This got me thinking. I checked his bio on the NYSRTS site where he serves as an appointed board member helping to insure that the best interests of the teachers are served. Guess what again? No mention of his involvement with the EWSD Board. Could he be hiding something? I wouldn’t put anything past him. There appears to be, understandably, a conflict of interest relative to his involvement with the EWSD board. His serving is like having David Israel (the architect of the demise of our District) on the Board. I am presently looking into not only the ethics but also the legality of Keefe’s conduct. Like I questioned earlier, does anybody really think he’s there to serve the best interests of the community, particularly when it comes to pensions?

One needs to also comment on a Friday, April 14th Newsday article that reported the U.S. News & World Report ranking of Long Island schools. I preface what follows by reminding the readers that I have served as a reviewer for the USN&WR . . . and I can tell you that the ranking is primarily based on school name recognition. Nonetheless, three points need to be made:

1. The EWSD ranking has now approached 200, the increase indicating a further decline during Kanas’ tenure.
2. The EWSD did not make the top 200 schools in the most important categories–Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education. A truly sad commentary.
3. The ranking assessment process does not reflect the increasing number of EWSD parents who are opting to send their children to private schools to insure they receive a quality education.

The bottom line is that all of the concerns in my earlier note to Kanas still apply. They have been conveniently ignored, the result of which has eroded the quality of education in the EWSD. But there are four other factors that most – if not all – of the voters should consider.
1. Dr. Kanas misrepresented herself when she applied for the position of Superintendent of the EWSD. I repeatedly brought this FACT to the attention of both the Board and PTO. And, guess what? Both ignored the comments regarding Kanas. Other individuals in sports, education, business, etc., are automatically dismissed for this conduct. You’d think that if Kanas had my professional pride, she would offer some response. But I know she can’t defend her earlier behavior.
2. State financial aid has been reduced. Pension costs continue to increase and is now approaching a near out-of-control situation. What have Kanas and the Board done about this? You already know the answer.
3. CONNED!!! That’s what has happened to the EWSD parents and taxpayers (refer to an earlier paragraph on Keefe). They have been sold a bridge on the quality of education and the dedication of the teachers. They have simply been duped.
4. The turnaround will come when the community comes to realize that Board members – in almost every instance – are there for self-serving purposes. If they really cared about the kids, they would not move on once they have graduated. Think about past Board members who were so vociferous and outspoken about defending the status quo … a status quo that has resulted in higher taxes and a decrease in the quality of education.

On to the budget vote. Only two school districts in Nassau County will impose a higher tax levy than EWSD. Below is a comparison to our “neighboring/top” school districts:

School District 13-14 tax levy 14-15 tax levy % change

East Williston $50,969,855 $52,455,091 2.91

Carle Place 41,716,434 42,334.699 1.48

Garden City 96,859,458 98,392,677 1.58

Jericho 106,811,992 108,100,000 1.21

Manhasset 79,374,951 80,839,173 1.84

Mineola 77,906,690 79,045,241 1.46

Roslyn 91,050,882 92,975,619 2.11

Syosset 187,798,923 190,410,716 1.39

All other school districts in Nassau County were below the East Williston 2.91% increase–most of them below a 2% increase–except the following two school districts:

Baldwin 3.25% increase

Long Beach 3.75% increase

These numbers indicate that the EWSD is over the County average by well over 100%. This was definitely a year when school taxes could have been reduced given the current massive waste that still exists.

The bottom line: it’s OK to vote NO on the budget. Don’t be a glutton for punishment. Stop being taken for a fool. Stop being an enabler for the EXPOITERS. And finally, stop Kanas’ incompetence and indifference.

Lou Theodore

EPILOGUE

No doubt parents that I would classify as either fools or cowards will help carry the YES vote on the budget. As in the past, this will then be followed with large elaborate signs prominently displayed on the front lawn of each school reading: “EWSD Budget Passes—Thank you!!! This is obviously a direct insult to all the taxpayers who voted against the budget. I have repeatedly asked in the past for information (even FOILed it) on who paid for the signs and who allowed it to occur. I have yet to receive a response. Why? Because this is the way they operate, and it has become a way of life with them. Interestingly, they will not allow me to post a sign at each school that reads: “EWSD Budget Passes. We Apologize to Both Taxpayers and Schoolchildren.”

NEXT POSTINGS: (tentative)

JUNE 1: On the Interview Process
JULY 1: On Tenure
AUGUST 1: On a National Energy Policy
SEPTEMBER 1: On Purely Chaste, Pristine and Random Thoughts XXI
OCTOBER 1: On Barack Hussein Obama Update IV
NOVEMBER 1: On Paying Student-Athletes II
DECEMBER 1: On Hofstra Men’s Basketball: 2014-15 Season
JANUARY 1: On Football Boxes
FEBRUARY 1: On Great Eats

Advertisements