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.
- 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 !*!?!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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