ON THE EAST WILLISTON SCHOOL DISTRICT BUDGET VOTE

April 30, 2016

 

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 voting NO on the budget.  Why?  Two reasons come to mind:  (A) Waste and (B) Senior Citizen Exploitation.

 

A comment for each of the above two concerns.

  1. Waste.  Here are the facts as best as I can ascertain.  (The District has a long-standing policy of ignoring FOIL requests.)  The annual per capita student cost is approaching $35,000.  The student teacher ratio is below 10:1.  There are over 21 secretaries!!  Teacher absenteeism remains a problem.  Add to this waste the failure of some students to attend the college/university of their choice, the lack of preparedness of some of the students for post-high school education, and the continued decline of the District’s national and local ranking.  Why has the waste situation worsened?  Once again, here are the facts.  When enrollment increased, the teachers and their union convinced their puppet Board and indifferent Superintendent that there was a need to hire more teachers and administrators (guidance counselors—they are still a joke, an assistant principal, etc.).  Now that enrollment has decreased, the add-on positions have either been retained or replaced . . . not eliminated.  No doubt some of you remember when Gordon argued for a 3rd secretary . . . and got one !*!?!
  2.  Senior Citizen Exploitation. Once again, here are the facts.  Senior citizens are required to pay for the education of students of other District members.  They are also required to pay for all additional accommodations provided these students.  In effect, they are paying for services they do not receive and have no say in the matter.  I believe this is borderline criminal.  Remember that despite the voting process seniors are in the minority and thus have no say in this matter.  Add to this is that the beneficiaries of this exploitation have refused to correct the injustice.

 

One could expand on both the above two issues but it would be a “waste” of time.  However, since I am often accused of complaining and not offering any remedies, I will now propose a solution to both problems.  So here goes.

 

  1. Waste.  Provide outside companies/individuals/consultants the opportunity to review the overall operation of the District from both an academic and financial perspective, and then provide recommendations on how to reduce/eliminate the waste.  The suggestions would be acted on only if approved by an omniscient individual/group (or the equivalent).  Half the savings of the first year would be provided to the reviewing entity.  Can you imagine the field day some of these efficiency experts would have?  Keep in mind that this was recommended earlier during the Kushner/Zatlin/Fiorello era (when the Board was really concerned about waste) and was naturally flatly rejected by the union.  Why?  They knew better than anyone about the rampant waste.  After all, eliminating waste is a win-win situation for parents, school children, and seniors.  Remember that the elimination of waste will improve the QUALITY OF EDUCATION and increase PROPERTY VALUES.
  2. Senior Citizen Exploitation: My recommendation here is not only relatively simple but also relatively harmless.  Reduce the school tax of all eligible senior citizens (≥65 years of age) by 10% the first year, 20% the second year, to 50% of the tax the fifth year.  Potential further reductions could be discussed following the 5th year of reductions.  I checked with the Village office and was informed that 15.5% of the taxpayers are senior citizens.  Thus, my proposed action on senior tax reduction would increase the school tax burden on “non-seniors” by approximately 1.5% each year.  Now, that doesn’t sound that unreasonable to me.  The problem is that it is sure to be unreasonable to “the exploiters.”

 

I also feel it necessary to provide the reader with an abbreviated review of the present state of the EWSD.

 

Elaine Kanas, Superintendent of Schools:  Successfully misrepresented herself during the interview process for the job of Superintendent.  Kamberg and his crew chose not to vet Kanas; however, four of us did their job.

 

Mark Kamberg, Board President:  I trust him as far as I could throw him.  Really.  This guy is not to be trusted.

 

Robert Fallarino, Board Vice President:  Betrayed some of his followers earlier when there was an attempt to correct the EWSD abuses/waste.

 

David Keefe, Board Trustee:  A career union hack who is there to only serve the union and his family.  Continues to represent the retired teachers and their union at the state level . . . an inexcusable conflict of interest that has been ignored.  According to my files on Keefe, I once confronted him about the duplicity . . . and he laughed at me.  Face it.  He is not concerned about the best interests of our community.

 

Barbara Stone, Board Trustee:  An absolute nonentity who knows about as much about education as my left toenail.

 

Leonard Hirsch, Board Trustee:  Where did he come from?  I’ve got nothing in my files on him.  Another Kamberg stooge?  Has he done anything to correct the abuses and reduce/eliminate the waste?

 

Sean Feeney, Wheatley Principal:  I believe he is one of the “principle” causes for the post-high school woes of some of our graduates and the District’s decline.

 

PTO:  An absolutely comical organization that has been successfully duped by the teachers and their union.  It continues to serve the best interests of the teachers’ union at the expense of both the school children and taxpayers.  I’m not aware of the PTO every questioning the waste and senior school tax exploitation . . . and I doubt they ever will.

 

 

What about the budget?  Here is my take on it.  I found myself aggravated and annoyed during a review of the budget.  They didn’t make it easy to find, there are numerous omissions, and it often didn’t make sense.  They would be run out of town if they were out in the business world.  In effect, I couldn’t figure out what they were doing and you can be certain that is the way they want it.  There was nothing on balances and reserve funds.  High school information (and for good reason) was particularly confusing.  Enrollment information was missing.  It appears 3 million dollars were not spent this year, leaving one to wonder why there is a tax increase.  There is a family and counseling science (!?I!) high school teacher being paid 91K; what the hell does this person do?  The aforementioned North Side Assistant Principal has been replaced by an Interim Assistant Principal.  There are now three (no longer one) psychologists—one at every school—costing 134K, 102K and 138K; one can only wonder what they do all day.  There is a substitute clerk (20K) for secretaries (I suppose); would you call for a substitute if your secretary was out?  If I could dig in more, there would certainly be more flagrant waste.

 

Is this not a sorry state of affairs?

 

No doubt many of the parents are aware that there is near universal agreement that the teachers’ unions are destroying education in our country.  Although it is worse elsewhere, Long Island school children have also suffered with the selfish abuses perpetrated by the unions.  Nowhere is that more true than in the EWSD where many of the school children have been deprived of the opportunity to achieve their true potential, primarily due to the programs at Wheatley.  The parents have Kanas, the Board, the union, the Wheatley principal, many of the teachers and (of course) the pitiful PTO to thank for this unfortunate state of affairs.

 

Here is a belated New Year’s resolution:  My hope is that responsible individuals in the education community will band together and start an organized campaign to awaken America to the abuses being perpetrated by the teachers’ unions and many of their members.  It would certainly help in the EWSD if parents/taxpayers wised up to the negative changes that have occurred in recent years; it was the Bergtraum/Israel era that started the EWSD’s decline.  And unfortunately, the present School Board/Administration/PTA troika are content to allow the exploitation of both the taxpayers and schoolchildren to continue; in effect, the EWSD is being run for the teachers, not anyone else.

 

Back to the above two recommendations:  Any chance either of the above two suggestions will be taken seriously and acted upon?  I guess you know the answer to this question.  That’s why it’s okay to vote NO on the budget on May 17th.  I would also issue a call to members of our District who are concerned about taxes, seniors, and (most importantly) schoolchildren to consider running for the Board in the future.  I hate to put it this way, but almost anybody would be better than what we have now.  And maybe—just maybe—the Board will stop ignoring complaints and listen to all members of our community; their confuse and/or ignore policies need to end.

 

P.S.      For Wheatley High School readers:  I attended a party this week for my student’s 25th anniversary of teaching at Manhattan College.  I kissed her on the cheek.  TWICE.  Now I’m waiting to see if any fines, penalties, or charges are going to be brought against me.

 

Visit the author on Facebook  at Basketball Coaching 101

 

NEXT POSTINGS:  (tentative):

 

JUNE 1:                      On Barack Hussein Obama V

JULY 1:                      On Financial Inequity

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ON HOFSTRA’S 2015-16 MEN’S BASKETBALL: A SUMMARY ANALYSIS

April 1, 2016

April 1, 2016

 

This is the third and last article on Hofstra’s 2015-16 Men’s Basketball team.  Here is a summary report of what took place this season and what to expect for the following year.

 

This was a banner year for the club.  The team basically featured a near dream offense that was unfortunately complemented with a porous defense.  There was the starting five that consisted of Rokas Gustys (C), Denton Koon (PF), Ameen Tanksley (SF), Brian Bernardi (#2), and Juan’ya Green (#1).  Rokas – who I refer to as “The Brute” – came into his own this season and probably should have been behind MVP Green for MVP honors.  Freshman Desure Buie had a decent season.  The club beat Florida State (neutral site), lost to South Carolina at the buzzer (neutral site), and beat St. Bonaventure (at Olean).   The club’s record, prior to the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) tournament: 22-8, 14-4.

 

I attended the CAA Tournament in Baltimore in early March where I was treated to 7 thrilling games over a 3-day span.  What a great vacation.  The tournament itself was the culminating event of the Hofstra season.  Without going into details, the team made it to the finals but lost to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW) in overtime.  The general consensus of the media following the loss was that Hofstra suffered from “fatigue” and “was running on fumes” while the UNCW defense – particularly against the two Hofstra guards – contributed significantly to the loss.  The season ended with a thrilling but another heartbreaking 2-point loss in the NIT at George Washington; interestingly, GW then went on to decisively win the NIT championship at the Garden.

 

Here is what I had to say earlier in the season:  “This may be Hofstra’s year.  Then again, it may turn out not to be for a host of reasons.  At the top of the list is a porous defense, following by the lack of a backup center, the lack of a shot blocker, and the lack of a great defensive guard.  Furthermore, Coach Mihalich appears constrained by a 5-man rotation due to the loss of Malik Nichols, which could expand to six with the addition of Buie; this might spell disaster in a potential 3-day/3-game tournament in March.  I maintain that 35+ minute players in a high powered offense will unquestionably cheat on defense – and this problem needs to be addressed.”  No one will ever convince me that a 35-40 minute starter will play with the same intensity defensively as a sub who knows his playing time is limited to under 10-12 minutes.

 

Here is a comment from afar from two fans on this season.  Bob Hausner:  “The Pride lived up to expectations.  The CAA proved to be competitive and Hofstra was in the mix.  They came down to the wire and lost heartbreakers in the tournament final game and the NIT first round.  Their starting five was the equal of any other team in the CAA.  Green lived up to all preseason expectations.  Unfortunately, the loss of Nichols, the 6th man, was devastating and hurt the team.  The short bench resulted in their running out of gas in the last game.”  Ed Borenstein:  “As a former alumni and long-time Hofstra basketball fan, I was very excited that Hofstra finally won the CAA conference plus had the CAA player of the year in Jaun’ya Green.  Although it was disappointing that they lost the championship game in the CAA Tournament, they played hard and got into the NIT.  I’m looking forward to next year and have confidence that Joe will build on the progress they made.”

 

Next season?   Assuming Rokas and Buie will not transfer, the club should have a reasonable chance to again be in the hunt for top honors.  With only minimal improvement, I would expect Rokas to contend for MVP honors the next two years.  Three point specialist Bernardi should be set for another good season.  Buie is the wild card.  He could make the Hofstra faithful forget about the great guards of yesteryear – Speedy, Charles Jenkins, Moore, Green, etc.  He too could become part of the MVP picture during the next three years.  He should improve dramatically in the future but what I love most about this skinny impersonator for a basketball player is his great defense.  Remember what I stated in my book Basketball Coaching 101:    “In reality, defense has recently emerged as the name of the game.  The author has repeatedly told basketball aficionados that defense is 50% of the game.  And every individual has responded with something to the effect: “of course, I (or we) know that”.  But really?  Who believes them?  After all, from the first day a player is introduced to basketball, defense has almost always been an afterthought…  It is great guards that get a team to a championship game, but it is great defensive guards that win championships.  It is their ability to create havoc on the opponent’s offense that makes the difference.  Bottom line:  defense doesn’t get the credit it deserves in the role it can play in determining the outcome of a game.”

 

All in all, it should be another very good year, particularly if the team exceeds the minimum requisite defense DNA.

 

Here is a comment from afar from an avid fan on next year’s season (Bob Bernstein):  “This will obviously be a very difficult season with the loss of Green, Tanksley, Koon and Nichols.  But there is some good news: two notable additions are 6’8” Oceanside transfer (from Tufts) Hunter Sabety, and guard Deron Powers from Hampton College.  Notable returns, in addition to Rokas and Bernardi, are 6’10” Andre Walker and small forward Jamail Robinson.  There are a lot of positives.”
Here is some personal information on the three seniors as the spotlight dims and they ride off to a new way of life – perhaps never to be heard from again.

 

  1. Kenton Koon, the graduate transfer from Princeton University. I dubbed Kenton the most underrated player on the team, primarily because of his court savvy.  He was also the only player on the starting five who didn’t look for his shot.  He was my type of contributor – a true team player.

 

  1. We are all hoping that Green will be drafted (by the NBA) sometime in the coming months. He has a legitimate shot because of his great passing, excellent foul shooting, and tremendous court presence.  Shooting, speed, and defense may be questioned by some interested teams.  From a personal perspective, I would draft him because great one (#1) guards have always been close to my heart.  Perhaps Speedy Claxton can help.
  2. Ameen Tanksley probably hopes to make it in Europe and he has a reasonable shot to succeed. He had a great CAA Tournament.  The main problem is that he is a “tweener”, i.e., too small for a small forward (#3) and not possessing the qualities for a #2 guard.  But he is all heart and tough as nails.  His four years with Coach Mihalich is obviously a plus.

 

Baseball has arrived.   As my father often put it:  Let’s go Mets.  But it will be a while before this Hofstra basketball season leaves some of us.  But nonetheless, Coach Mihalich, his assistant coaches, Athletic Director Jeff Hathaway, and all the players need to be congratulated.  Thank you all for an exciting season.  It was also a memorable year in that Tom Yaeger, the CAA Commissioner since its inception 31 years ago, announced that he was retiring.   He and his wife plan to remain at their lake home in Virginia.  Congratulations, good luck and good health to Tom.

 

I close with a poetic executive summary of the 2015-16 season.  My thoughts often turn to the passage of time which, in turn, are reminders of sayings involving the orbiting of the sun that have withstood the test of time.  Here is a sampling.

 

Henry David Thoreau

Walden. I, Economy

To him whose elastic and vigorous thought

keeps pace with the sun

the day is a perpetual morning.

 

Minot Judson Savage

Things Not Done

There comes an hour of sadness

With the setting of the sun,

Not for the sins committed,

But the things I have not done.

 

Edward Young

Night Thoughts

Like our shadows,

Our wishes lengthen as our sun declines.

 

How does the above relate to this narrative?  Darkness is now approaching for the two kids from Philly who provided two years of immense basketball talent as they prepare to ride off into the sunset, awaiting a new beginning.  But then, having stepped out of the darkness and experienced the early morning rays of light upon the darkened sky, Buie now awaits his day in the sun.  Perhaps Scarlett O’Hara (Vivian Leigh) said it best when the curtain descended on Margaret Mitchell’s classic “Gone with the Wind” “After all, tomorrow is another day.” (perhaps drawn from Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixode – tomorrow will be a new day?).

 Visit the author on his Facebook page at Basketball Coaching 101

 

NEXT POSTINGS:  (tentative):

 

MAY 1:                       On the 2016 East Williston School District Budget Vote

JUNE 1:                      On Barack Hussein Obama V

JULY 1:                      On Financial Inequity