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


ON THE EAST WILLISTON SCHOOL DISTRICT II

December 30, 2013

January 1, 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all. First and foremost, I need to thank those who have continued to provide support and encouragement during this past year. The last article of this year concerns the East Williston School District (EWSD). The following paragraph is an edited and updated version of material written approximately one year ago.

“The EWSD is presently in decline with its national ranking having plummeted, and there is rampant teacher absenteeism, a present superintendent that is both unqualified and incompetent plus an embarrassment to the District, difficulty in placing Wheatley seniors in the school of their choice, $150,000+ annual teacher salaries plus massive additional benefits and (unfortunately) job security, $30,000+ annual cost per student, a 9.75:1 student to teacher ratio that continues to decline, a policy of refusing to eliminate waste, and the self-serving policies of …….” The end result is that EWSD residents pay the highest average school taxes in Nassau County (because of the massive waste), the economic effect of which has been to unnecessarily depress property values. And, guess what? My effort and activities to implement reform have produced change. Unfortunately, the change has produced a situation that has worsened.

A question we engineers often ask when evaluating a scheme, proposal, contract, etc., is as follows: Is it cost-effective and is there sufficient accountability? When applied to our District, this school board, these school administrators, and these teachers have conveniently avoided answering this question. In fact, these individuals continue to try to convince concerned and angry taxpayers that taxes need to be raised further if our children are to receive a quality education.

What about the EWSD Superintendent, Dr. Elaine Kanas? I had two meetings with Kanas. I first met Kanas a few weeks after she arrived in August 2012. At that time, I presented her with a list of particulars detailing the shortcomings of our District and a call for reform. A copy of that note follows.

“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 details on 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.”

Every member of our community, and in particular, every parent, should read and reread the concerns I raised and ask yourself if these issues need to be address. Instead of expressing dismay at my description of the current state of the District, Kanas indicated that there wasn’t enough proof to validate my statements and claims, and indicated that a committee would look into it in the near future. I explained to the Superintendent that you didn’t need a Ph.D. to divide one number by another in order to verify my claims. I also explained that committees don’t get things done and that any meaningful recommendations for reform by whatever committee would be ignored by both the corrupt Board and equally corrupt teachers and their union. I became convinced that nothing meaningful would occur with Kanas as Superintendent…and my concerns have been confirmed at this point in time.

Two of Kanas’ favorite terms during our discussions were strategic and comprehensive, two popular Madison Avenue clichés. Any time I hear someone using either or both of these words, that individual gets tuned out since I know from past experience that the individual is either clueless or trying to con me, or both. Kanas appears to be in this category. In any event, Kanas never took action on my note.

More than six months have elapsed since I tried to get to the bottom of class sizes and teacher absenteeism. Thanks to Assistant Superintendent Fitzpatrick, I still don’t have the necessary background information and data to perform a meaningful analysis of both these problems. She has successfully stalled the process. The bottom line is that my repeated calls for Fitzpatrick to go (and not be replaced) have been ignored. Thank you Kanas.

Can Kanas turn things around in the EWSD? I doubt it, given the past conduct of the EXPLOITERS, i.e., Kamberg, the present Board, earlier Boards, plus the teachers and their union. The District needs a strong Superintendent who will stand up to the self-serving EXPLOITERS in our community. Unfortunately, Kanas has not even remotely demonstrated either the willingness and/or capability to do so. My present thought: Kanas may turn out to be a worse nightmare than the EXPLOITER’S earlier favorite – the incompetent and unqualified Lorna Lewis.

I’ve not heard from Kanas since our earlier meetings. Despite the drop in enrollment, the student cost is now projected to be nearly $32,000 and I was informed the student/teacher ratio has worsened. Kanas promised to take action and I was willing to give her a pass even though she misrepresented herself both on her application and during the Superintendent’s position review process. Apparently, nobody cares even though this is grounds for dismissal. I guess Kamberg and his crew feel they can control Kanas and have her under their thumb. And, on her part, Kanas has come to feel comfortable with this arrangement where she can ignore being accountable to the taxpayers and the students.

Only a fool doesn’t understand that the EXPLOITERS, i.e., the teachers and their union, in cooperation with Kanas, Kamberg, his Board, the PTO leadership and some of its members, are destroying our school district and ripping off the taxpayer. The present system is simply unsustainable; everyone – except some voters – knows it. Unfortunately, most of the PTO members continue to be successfully brainwashed every year. No opposing voice is allowed. Even Wheatley seniors receive the usual lectures from the teachers that all will be lost if the budget is defeated. As I have repeatedly stated, the District’s ranking and reputation is in a freefall decline, the student:teacher ratio is 9.75:1.0…. Wheatley seniors are having difficulty getting into the school of their choice, and some seniors lack college preparedness. The teachers are teaching less, their indifference has increased, and the teacher role model is a thing of the past. Astonishingly, the parents have come to accept this. The ax is certain to fall when the younger children reach graduation age. Yet, the parents in our District appear not to be concerned.

What does all this mean? The EXPLOITERS have sacrificed the best interests of the schoolchildren (and the taxpayers) in order to (perhaps?) gain an advantage for their kids with teachers and administrators, all at the expense of the children of other parents. And, if the other parents don’t believe this statement, I’ve got a bridge to sell them. Simply put, parents have and continue to be duped.

A word on Sean Feeney, Wheatley’s principal. An 11/4/13 article in Newsday referred to “The Wheatley School as one of the highest rated schools on Long Island” and that “Feeney does not believe his own negative job evaluations reflect that rating.” Unfortunately, Wheatley no longer is one of the elite schools, no doubt reflected in his poor evaluation. Come on! Would he have complained if he got good/excellent reviews? I checked the criteria employed in the evaluation process (something I have been involved with in the past) and it looked fairly reasonable to me. Four words come to mind when I think of most of his (the Wheatley) teachers: indifference, mean-spirited, greedy, and parasitic. In the meantime, his graduates continue to complain about the quality of education they are receiving (details available on request). In any event, he appears next in line for the Superintendent’s job when and if Kanas is dumped or if she moves on (ala Lewis).

Keep in mind that despite the aforementioned enrollment decrease in excess of 10%, more teachers and administrators have been hired, the school budget continues to spiral upward, and the quality of education is decreasing monotonously. Thank you Kanas for allowing the waste and the quality of education to decline unabated. She really has turned out to be as bad as Lewis.

The reality is that the EWSD community has reached a point where the majority of residents – including many parents – simply don’t care about what’s going on. There is significant apathy and disinterest, with large numbers of voters ignoring their duty to vote. No doubt change will come, but it will take time.

I also need to include a few of the letters from the EWSD mailbox.

“I am sure Dr. Kanas will destroy programs and lives just as she did in Valley Stream 30. She brings in tons of programs with no follow-through and is only concerned with improving her own resume.”
Name Withheld

“Dear Dr. Theodore, Facts again seem to be right on the money. You have mentioned more than once that ‘facts and information’ are being hidden. Your only alternative is to try to use the freedom of information act. The things you mention should come under the heading of public information which should enable you to use this law. I also think that in many respects you are ‘beating a dead horse’ which must be very frustrating. However, knowing you as I do, I know you will continue the ‘good fight’.”
Bob S.

“…… aside from that, I loved this letter because none of it surprised me…which made me feel like I know you fairly well. On a separate thought, I’d love to see you do an article on how many EW School District families choose to send their children to private school. I met a family recently. They live on William Street in EW and have 4 children. They send all 4 to private schools. They don’t seem to know a soul in EW. Just around the corner is another family with 5 children. All 5 are in private school. It would be a wakeup call for EW families who think our school is so great to find out that a large percentage don’t think the district is even good enough to send their children there. Have a great weekend Professor.”
Name Withheld

“Nicely said. Sir, I was wondering…Have you ever done an analysis of how many (or what proportion) of our EWSD eligible students are utilizing other venues for education? I’m curious how many of our district’s students attend private schools or are home-schooled. Thanks for sharing.”
Name Withheld

Is there a reasonable solution that can accommodate the best interests of both the taxpayers and schoolchildren, and at the same time, be fair to the teachers? Of course! My approach has been ignored. But I believe that something other than a weak-kneed Superintendent could pull it off. In the meantime, EWSD readers should take whatever steps are necessary to help put a stop to the EXPLOITERS’ conduct regarding school and financial matters.

Readers: Don’t be a glutton for punishment. Stop being taken for a fool, and stop being an enabler for the EXPLOITERS.

Lou Theodore

NEXT POSTINGS:

February 1: On the New York Times
March 1: On Chaste, Pristine, and Random Thoughts XX
April 1: On the Barack Hussein Obama Update III


THE EAST WILLISTON SCHOOL DISTRICT BUDGET VOTE RESULTS

May 29, 2013

June 1, 2013

Last month’s “THE BUDGET VOTE” article generated responses that keyed on Kanas’ survey requesting community input and an exchange with one of the readers. The readers’ mailbox comments follow.

1 – “A true survey would NOT request a name to be entered on the form. Some people do not like to put their name on anything going to the board and administration (especially parents who fear the repercussions to their kids). And if a survey (or any other issue) is submitted without names, it is usually disregarded! This has happened in the past. So IF they really wanted a true response, it should have been an anonymous survey.” I should have picked up on this based on the Kanas’ survey (particularly since I have conducted numerous surveys) given the fanatical conduct of the teachers in the past. It is possible that Kanas is not savvy enough to appreciate how vindictive some of the teachers are. Keep in mind that it was Kansas (our new Superintendent) who misrepresented herself during the interview process.

2 – “If our tax dollars are used to send out surveys such as this, it’s not wasteful spending. Providing educational decisions would be a group decision made by the community…and we could therefore ELIMINATE the Superintendent position.” I don’t agree with this reader. We need a strong, intelligent and dedicated Superintendent. Unfortunately, most of us now feel that Kanas does not fit that description.

3 – From one out-of-town reader (when informed of the budget results): “How sick are the voters? Sell your house, get away from these asses, and come move to Florida.” Wow!

4 – My response to an earlier email from one of the most respected and influential members of our community: “Looks like you’re getting your two cents in. I’m not sure if that is good from your perspective given the vindictive conduct of the teachers. I wouldn’t place too much credence in anything from either Feeney or Kanas. Feeney is looking to explain away the sorrowful conduct of his teachers and the poor quality of education at the high school. Kanas is simply out of her league and turning into a disaster. I offer the following regarding Whelan’s 5/23 article:

1. Does anyone think Feeney or Kanas would be criticizing the education methodology if our ranking either increased or improved?

2. I’m not sure what was meant by the words “taking ownership of our own rankings.” The teachers and administrators couldn’t possibly be objective since we know they are both unethical and unprofessional. Any evaluation must be conducted by an impartial group. What makes more sense is your recommendation to evaluate student performance after graduation from “year to year.” I think information garnered in this manner would verify my contention that the high school is failing in its responsibility and not doing its job.”

The latest response to my (the above) email:

“A few thoughts.

I tend to believe that an internal ranking system is needed and can be developed and published in a transparent manner. I have no reason to believe that the school would intentionally misrepresent the data. And folks like myself would be all over them if they did that. However, I have no issues if an external party or group prepared and monitored the results. I even think one of the Board Committee could help in this capacity.

In the article there is an admission by Kanas that the SAT scores are declining. In addition, in the attached report (slide 13) Feeney does highlight that Jericho has improved their index value by 25%.

I think it’s important to recognize that while we continue to be a top ranked school, we appear to be losing ground to our peer schools in terms of academic performance. Rather than simply criticize, I’d like to engage with our school administration and Board in an open way about what actions can be taken to address these issues. Or simply, learn from other districts that are doing better.

Many parents, like myself are starting to become aware of these issues. I’d like to build on the momentum and continue to raise awareness and request action.
So far, Dr. Kanas has recognized the SAT issue, and is modifying the curriculum to address. I believe this is a good start but more review and action is needed.
Just my thoughts and I appreciate your point of view on these issues.”

There were, of course, other comments. Your input and continued support are appreciated.

* * *

Let’s get right to it. The budget passed. Unbelievable! Embarrassing! Frightening! How out-of-it can some of the voters be? And, how uncaring and selfish can some of the other voters be? As I have repeatedly indicated, the 9.75 and $32,000 figures speak for themselves. (Interestingly, Manhasset voters rejected their budget; this community is apparently smart enough to realize what’s happening.) The bond issue passed, giving the Board permission to effectively spend money without accountability and without requiring a budget vote. Finally, the self-servicing Keefe (and former teacher union president) and the devoid-of-qualifications Sloan were again voted into office.

Here is what our intelligent and informed District members voted for. The state tax cap limit is 3.30%. The EWSD tax levy is presently 3.21%. Anyone in the reading audience believe that the EXPLOITERS ever gave some thought to freezing or reducing the tax levy? They obviously set out to work around the 3.30% increase. They would have never attempted anything else, for if they could have eliminated any waste and/or programs, it would have gone into increasing teacher salaries and benefits and/or reducing their already soft workload. Thank you EXPLOITERS.

Only a fool doesn’t understand that the EXPLOITERS, i.e., the teachers and their union, in cooperation with Kanas, Kamberg, his Board, the PTO leadership, and some of its members, are destroying our school district and ripping off the taxpayer. The present system is simply unsustainable; everyone – except the aforementioned voters – knows it. Here is what Newsday reported on 5/1/13: “School spending and tax proposals are rising across Long Island, fueled by pension costs and other staff benefits.” What they didn’t report, unfortunately, is that no one is doing anything about it. The EXPLOITERS are tickled pink to either maintain the status quo or further exploit the community. The powers to be in the Village of East Williston have settled on the sidelines and stay above the fray even though the school taxes are destroying property values and the quality of life in the Village. I also talked to the County; they claim it’s not their business even though school taxes are destroying the County. The State? With Cuomo… forget about it.

Here is what Newsday reported (5/19) regarding EWSD budgetary matters: “District officials declined to provide information on increases in teacher salaries or possible reductions to teachers or other staff under the proposed budget. They also would not specify whether any district programs would be cut or restored.” In other words, it’s not only me they want to keep in the dark, but everyone in the District. Now, that is what I call transparency. And, why do they get away with it? Many, but not all, of the voters – particularly the parents – are too dumb to know better.

Probably all in the reading audience have invested in the stock market (or the equivalent). You can win… or you can lose. But not our teachers. Our corrupt state officials, fearful of being labeled anti-education by the Teachers’ Union (the most powerful lobbying entity in the state) have guaranteed that the teachers’ pensions will not only be profitable but also cannot be reduced, altered or rescinded. And the teachers and their union are still not happy or satisfied. Gouging the taxpayer is the name of their game and the EXPLOITERS (including Kanas) are there to make sure it stays that way.

There is, of course, more. Gov. Cuomo has said: “the numbers speak for themselves –the pension system, as we know it, is unsustainable.” Gov. Christie has said: “At some point, there has to be parity between what is happening in the real world and what is happening in the public-sector world.” Under the present system, taxes will go up every year and no one can stop them unless you, the taxpayer, vote these bloated budgets down. Concessions must be made if anyone truly wants to enact change. But, don’t count on the EXPLOITERS for cooperation since it does not serve their best interests. And, it really is sad that Kanas has already joined the non-reformist forces.

Well, there’s more. Last year, someone or some organization posted signs on school grounds that read:
EWSD BUDGET PASSED
THANK YOU

I called and requested permission to put a sign on school grounds that I had prepared. It was not only denied but they also refused to indicate who paid for the sign and who approved the posting of the sign. (Two months later, the PTO was credited for this in a one-sentence statement buried in the minutes.) If the PTO is a 501C organization, i.e., a non-profit one, they are strictly forbidden to support any political issue.) Same posting this year. I called Kanas’ office and requested an explanation. No explanation was provided. (Incidentally, the signs came down the next day.)Thank you, Kanas, for confirming, at least in my eyes, that you are a perfect addition to the EXPLOITER group.

You want even more? This is another example of the EXPLOITERS at work. Here are part of the contents (not taken out of context) recently forwarded by the PTO to select parents and taxpayers:

“Please Join Concerned Residents and Teachers on June 8th in Albany at the Empire State Plaza in Albany. You are invited to attend a rally to express your support for our public schools and frustrations with the direction our children’s education is taking:
1. Too many tests
2. Not enough funding
3. A broken tax system
The Teacher’s Union is generous to provide free bus service as well as lunch to those who wish to attend this rally.”
Obviously, the most powerful lobbying entity in Albany – the teachers’ union – is attempting to, once again, intimidate our elected officials into providing increased salaries/reduce workloads and eliminating accountability for teachers. I’m still trying to find out if any taxpayer funds were used to support this “project.” Naturally, nobody knows anything. I can’t even find out how many taxpayers are dumb enough to consider supporting this scam.

The EXPLOITERS obviously are having it their way. But now, there is a new player — the Financial Advisory Committee (FAC). Their long awaited report and power point presentation is available on our school’s website. All taxpayers and parents should carefully examine it. Here are three important points that should be noted. The FAC’s charges from the EXPLOITERS include the following:

1. “FAC recommendations are not binding on the school board. However, the Board will consider the recommendations of the FAC in its deliberations regarding the ongoing fiscal operations of the District.” In other words, any meaningful recommendations regarding reform that is not in the best interests of the EXPLOITERS will be (as in the past) ignored. I’ve got a bridge to sell any FAC member who believes otherwise.

2. “Continue to advocate and demonstrate commitment to school reform.” There has NEVER been a commitment to correct the abuses, implement reform, and/or eliminate waste.

3. “The current budget, as presently recommended, represents a 3.15% increase year over year.” Thus, the 2011-12, 2012-13, and 2013-14 budget increases are 1.92%, 2.49% and 3’15%, respectively. In effect, the budget continues to increase despite the fact that enrollment continues to decrease. Since the value of our houses is inversely proportioned to school taxes, the impossible-to-justify tax increases have also resulted in decreased house values. Did we need any other justification to vote NO on the budget?

No doubt many of you read (Newsday, 5/9/12) that our District’s ranking continues to freefall and is currently 246, down again from 55 last year. In addition, the student:teacher ratio in the top four schools on Long Island is 12, 13, 14 and 16 — as compared to our 9.75. Stuyvesant (my alma mater) is at 21. The figures simply don’t lie: the EXPLOITERS are destroying our District with the waste and indifference. We are now officially an also-ran. Even Governor Cuomo has described the school systems as “ineffective, wasteful, and bureaucratic,” and the most recent budget vote officially insures that it will stay that way.

In effect, the battle for reform has been lost. Sigi Huhn and John O’Kelly attempted valiantly to correct the corruption associated with the EXPLOITERS but both were run out of town by this group. And now, we can add Superintendent Kanas to the EXPLOITERS. Other than this newsletter, the voice of reform, representing the majority of the community, has been successfully squashed and eliminated. Most of the PTO members continue to be successfully brainwashed with every year. No opposing voice is allowed. Wheatley seniors of voting age are receiving the usual lectures from the teachers that all will be lost if the budget is defeated. The voices of reform have never — repeat the word NEVER — been allowed to discuss the budget vote and provide another perspective with these youngsters. Keep in mind that the EXPLOITERS (and those who came earlier) never approached any of the proponents of reform. This is the same group that bragged about their ability to reach out and work with the ENTIRE community. The bottom line is that they oppose any type of reform; excessive waste is the order of the day for them.

A reasonable question to ask is: why would reasonably intelligent and caring people not take action to correct the aforementioned financial abuses? The District needs to wake up; the 9.75 and $32,000 numbers speak for themselves. The answer is simply that most are not caring; they only care for their own needs irrespective of the common good…and the community pays for it because they now know that the EXPLOITERS can get away with it. Many of the key players have children (and grandchildren) and relatives working in the EWSD system, and this serves as the driving force to resist any category of reform.
What can be done? Public opinion polls (as reported by Newsday) clearly indicate that 90% of the voters oppose any tax increases. Ordinarily, dedicated and intelligent individuals would respond to a public mandate. Unfortunately, the Board is run by Kamberg, who has refused to accommodate voters, and who I believe has a past history of pursuing his own agenda, irrespective of the effect on both the schoolchildren and I taxpayers. Yes, Kamberg is only out for Kamberg. The PTO officers are only out for themselves. The teachers are only out for themselves. Apparently, Kanas is also out for herself. Add this to the 30 year old Triborough Amendment and you have school systems in place that are broken beyond repair. (The Triborough Amendment requires public employers to maintain all contractual perks for unionized public employees, including automatic “step” increases in pay after the expiration of a collective bargaining agreement; this gives unions an incentive to resist negotiating structural changes to their contracts since the status quo will be preserved even if there is no contract. It guarantees pay increases for teachers, including the requirement to finance automatic pay increases.) This is why approximately 500 applications are often received every time when there is a teacher opening.

Folks, have a great summer.
Lou Theodore

Here is what is on tap in the coming months:

July 1: On the New New York Racing Association (NYRA)
August 1: On the New Cooper Union
September 1: On Chaste, Pristine, and Random Thoughts XIX
October 1: On the Barack Hussein Obama Legacy


The East Williston School District (EWSD) Budget Vote

April 30, 2013

Note:   I recently met with an elected County Administrator to discuss my energy conservation commercial real estate (CRE) plans to reduce the degradation of the environment, provide new jobs, reduce energy costs, increase property values, and reduce the financial load on the County.  Sounds too good to be true?  It is not.  It has been implemented in two New York State Counties, several counties in California and Colorado, and the state of Connecticut.  Technical individuals in the reading audience should consider reading the paper.    The portion of the paper specifically dealing with CRE is highlighted.  Your comments would be appreciated.

Click here to go to paper.

May 1, 2013

There were numerous responses to the last article on the teachers and their union.  Here is one (unedited) that says it all:

“Keep up the good work.  Unfortunately, many have their heads buried in the sand and the others are too ignorant to understand the level of thievery and waste we are subject to.  People have been indoctrinated by the school system, the leftist media, unions, Hollywood and government, that government is good, collectivism is good, and all else is bad.”  Note that I chose to italicize ignorant.

 

We are back to that time of year.  The EWSD budget vote.  It’s not only the budget but also the Board seats about which nothing can be done.  Keefe, a former teacher union president, who has used his position for personal gain, is running unopposed.  Sloan, an individual absolutely unqualified for the job, is also running unopposed.  What’s left is the budget, and that is what I will key on in this article.

Please note that from here on, I shall refer to Kamberg (I prefer Konberg), the other four Board members, the teachers, the teachers’ union, the PTO and Dr. Elaine Kanas as the EXPLOITERS.

The EXPLOITERS continue to play games with the parents and taxpayers.  In case you haven’t noticed, there hasn’t been a word about Lorna Lewis.  Remember how all of them raved about her.  All of them.  Well, she’s officially gone, and our loss is Plainview’s gain (ha!).  Apparently, Plainview (as with an earlier EWSD Board) didn’t do its due diligence.  If they had, they would have concluded that she was a fraud – something the EXPLOITERS continue to refuse to admit.

Interestingly, the EXPLOITERS also didn’t perform the necessary and appropriate due diligence when they hired Kanas, our new Superintendent.  They obviously believe the taxpayers and parents (in particular) are either indifferent or not too bright, or both.

Kanas may turn out to be a worse nightmare than the EXPLOITER’S earlier favorite – the aforementioned incompetent and unqualified Lorna Lewis.  I had two serious talks with Kanas about budgetary matters, e.g., the $30,000 annual cost per student and the 9.75 student/teacher ratio.  I’ve not heard from her on either of these two issues.  Despite the drop in enrollment, the student cost is now projected to be nearly $32,000 and I was informed the student/teacher ratio has worsened.  Kanas promised to take budgetary action and I was willing to give her a pass even though she misrepresented herself on her application and during the Superintendent’s position review process.  Apparently, nobody cares even though this is grounds for dismissal.  In the meantime, she has obviously chosen to declare war on both our schoolchildren and taxpayers.  Shame on her!

Here is what we presently know regarding specific budget details.

  1. The      EWSD per capita annual student cost is nearly $32,000.
  2. The      student:teacher ratio is 9.75:1.0 providing further proof of (1).
  3. The      average class size is below that reported to the community, a fact that      EXPLOITERS must be aware of.  The      situation is particularly exacerbated at Wheatley.
  4. I have      not been provided teacher absenteeism data; it obviously must still be      rampant.
  5. The      waste – secretaries, assistants, associates, aides, and yes, some of the      teachers – remains unchecked.  As      reported by the FAC, jobs are not eliminated when they leave or retire.
  6. Our      District’s ranking is in freefall.
  7. Our      seniors at Wheatley are having difficulty getting into the      college/university of their choice.
  8. The      teachers’ position continues to be “we don’t do anything for nothing.”      This is all part of the Susan Bergtraum policies and the “poisoning” of      our teachers by David Israel, the former Teachers’ Union President.
  9. Despite      near zero percent inflation and overall decreasing enrollment in recent      years, the school budget continues to spiral upward.
  10. No plan      has been put in place, or even proposed, to eliminate the waste and solve      some of the above problems.  Thanks      are due to the EXPLOITERS.

I also need to comment on another matter, I hope many of you had an opportunity to review the survey recently forwarded by the Strategic Planning Committee under Kanas’s letterhead.  How convenient.  The community received the mailing just prior to budget election time.  The survey was unquestionably intended (in my opinion) to give the voter the impression that his/her opinion counts.  The useless survey requested that the community provide academic priorities for the future.  Now, who really believes that the average community member is qualified to render any such judgment?  These are decisions that should be made by competent Superintendents and Administrators.  Please view it as simply another scam.

Is there a reasonable solution that can accommodate the best interests of both the taxpayers and schoolchildren, and at the same time, be fair to the teachers?  Of course!  My approach has been ignored.  But I believe that something other than a weak-kneed Superintendent could pull it off.

The interested reader should continue to visit:

www.theodorenewsletter.com

for more hard facts/information and details regarding the conduct of the EXPLOITERS and what they don’t want the taxpayers/parents to know.  Also, direct your friends, neighbors and relatives to the site.

Bottom Line:  Do yourself a favor, do the children a favor, do the taxpayers a favor, do the seniors a favor, do our home values a favor and vote

NO

 

on the budget.  It’s ok to vote no.  Help put a stop to the EXPLOITERS conduct regarding financial matters.  Don’t be a glutton for punishment.  Stop being taken for a fool, and stop being an enabler for the EXPLOITERS (especially Kamberg)

NEXT POSTING:  June 1, The Budget Results.


The East Williston School District Teachers and Their Union

March 30, 2013

April 1, 2013

 

I periodically clip out articles in newspapers that catch my fancy.  Several such articles appeared in the newspaper media since the East Williston School District (EWSD) budget election last year.  Here are “excerpts” from four of them.

 

  1. Newsday, May 9, 2012.

      South Huntington Deal on Teacher Contracts

 

Here are parts of the article:

 

The contract calls for a complete salary freeze for 2012-13; a 2 percent raise in 2013-14 but no step increase; and a step increase but no raise in 2014-15.

 

A statement by the district reiterated the Board of Education position “that savings from the teachers’ contract concessions would go toward restoring educational programs in the district.”

 

Comment:       Anyone believe that the (EWSD) teachers and their union, along with Kamberg and his crew plus Superintendent Kanas, will follow with a similar contract?

 

  1. Newsday,      July 22, 2012.

 

Central Islip teachers agreed to a (relatively amazing) new contract involving some modest reduction in pay increases that will result in reduced class sizes and a reduction in taxes.

 

Comment:       Is there any chance the (EWSD) teachers and their union will agree to a similar deal?  Of course not; it simply would not be in their best interests.

 

  1. Newsday,      October 21, 2012.

Take a Course, Get a Raise

 

Here are excerpts from the article:

 

Long Island school administrators are allowing teachers to take professional development courses such as yoga, stress management and “The science and Romance of Wine” for credits that count toward thousands of dollars in raises – over and above the annual increases they already receive, a Newsday investigation has found.

 

At least 100 classes had little connection to student learning or were of questionable academic value.  Districts approved more than 750 classes that were outside of the teacher’s subject areas.  Just 40 of Long Island’s 125 school districts have contract language limiting the number of courses that can be taken in a year.

 

Oversight of professional development programs is spotty.  Some districts have approved classes provided by educational institutions that other districts have completely banned because they’ve deemed the course offerings are too lax.

 

Comment: Anyone think the EWSD teachers and their union will address this issue?  How about Kamberg and his crew?  How about Superintendent Kanas?

 

  1. Sarasota      Herald – Tribune, March 20, 2013.

There’s Learning . . . And Earning

 

Manatee County teachers’ pay was cut 2.75 percent last year; they are negotiating a contract for this year.  In 2010-11, teachers had a step increase, an average of 1.36 percent rise of their annual pay, while health insurance premiums jumped an average of 19 percent.

 

Overall, Florida teachers’ average pay decreased nearly 1 percent – from $46,922 to $46,479 – from the 2007-08 school year to 2011-12.

 

It is no secret that taxpayers across the country already are revolting against school spending—especially escalating teacher salaries.  This movement is taking place after decades of supporting education at almost any cost, usually by inept and unconscious School Board members and weak-kneed superintendents.  But, people are beginning to say that enough is enough.

 

A question we engineers often ask when evaluating a scheme, proposal, contract, etc., is as follows:  Is it cost-effective and is there sufficient accountability?  When applied to education, most school boards, school administrators and teachers have conveniently avoided answering this question.  In fact, these individuals continue to try to convince concerned and angry taxpayers that taxes need to be raised further if our children are to receive a quality education.

 

In terms of being cost-effective, many taxpayers are simply asking what are they getting for their money.  Why are many suburban teachers’ salaries more than 50% higher than their colleagues in the New York City school system?  This is particularly disconcerting since the NYC teacher has to contend with major social and behavioral problems that often overshadow normal teaching responsibilities.

 

Our nation’s economic system is based not only on competition but also supply and demand.  Teachers also continue to contend that salaries need to further increase in order to maintain and attract quality teachers.  Only an individual living in another galaxy would buy this argument.  How many presently teaching in a suburban setting would quit if their salaries were reduced by 25%? For sure, there would only be a handful.  If you believe this to be true—and I am certain it is—then the suburban taxpayer is being ripped off by the tandem of teachers associations and school boards, with the blessing of the aforementioned weak-kneed superintendents.  Any vacant positions that might arise would be filled almost instantaneously…and for good reason.

 

Suburban teachers also maintain that they are dedicated professionals.  What in the world is the rest of the work force?  To hear the teachers, you would think they were God’s gift to society.  Regarding suburban teachers, I have more respect for the NYC teacher, who I believe is as dedicated, if not more, because they are exposed to combat duty, often on a daily basis.

 

Although much of the above is rhetoric, one needs to examine teachers’ salaries relative to others.  As with some other professions, e.g., medicine, I believe it is disproportionate relative to the rest of the work force. Present-day salaries simply cannot be justified, particularly for those teachers whose salaries are $150,000/year.  When one considers the salary, perks, health benefits, abbreviated work days, extensive vacation periods, absenteeism, workplace environment, other educational opportunities, retirement plans, etc., of the suburban teacher, it is hard not to conclude that these individuals have it made.  Make no mistake about it, they have it made!  I ought to know, because I was part of a similar system (for over 50 years) – only at another level.

 

And then there is job security.  Today, most taxpayers no longer have the luxury of job security.  In the old days, one might receive, at any time, a DCM, as it was called during the depression era – Don’t Come Monday.  Being tenured means not having to worry about losing your job.  What is this worth?  When I was growing up, it was worth enough that teachers who earned significantly less than the rest of the work force were grateful for their job.  I know when I accepted a teaching position in 1960 for $6,000 a year, a salary substantially below what my colleagues were accepting in industry and business, I did so for two reasons: the desire to teach and the benefits mentioned above.

 

And then there is merit (?) pay for our teachers.  Merit pay must be part of fundamental reforms to help schools hire, promote and fire teachers according to the best interests of students.  This kind of arrangement is standard in the private sector, where continuous quality improvement is both expected and delivered.  Ultimately, reform of teacher conduct and performance will be most successful in school systems free of the regulatory burdens imposed by union contracts, and the education bureaucracy.

 

Merit?  There should be merit for a handful.  But this District’s ranking and performance are staggering.  Absenteeism is rampant.  And, indifference is on the rise.  There is something wrong with those who are advocating merit pay.  Dr. Kanas, do you get what I’m saying?

 

I taught for over 50 years.  I still do some training as a consultant, and this is for attendees with my background and education.  It was easy then; it is easy now.  Don’t believe the hype.  Teaching is a breeze.  Is it a racket as some of my dedicated colleagues have claimed?  Let’s just say the EWSD teachers work in a collegiate environment, with dedicated and mostly willing-to-learn students, a relaxed atmosphere  and  unaccountable conduct and performance . . . all on top of bloated salaries and benefits.  You be the judge.

 

I close with a comment I’ve repeated numerous times over the last dozen years.  The EWSD teachers, as a group, are the most unprofessional encountered during my teaching career.  They are an embarrassment to my profession.

 

Lou Theodore

 

Next Posting:    The Budget Vote, May 1, 2013


On the East Williston School District Parent Teacher Organization

February 27, 2013

March 1, 2013

This one’s about the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) of the East Williston School District (EWSD).  Since I’ll be talking about the teachers in the next issue, some comments regarding the parents need to be offered.

I was out to dinner (The Lobster Box) with a former student last week.  He had gone on to become a lawyer (!*?!) and Ph.D., and achieve the position of Assistant Provost (my boss).  For many years, he also served as President of a School Board at a Westchester school, similar in size to the EWSD.  He offered the following to me during dinner about parents: “Your analysis is not far from hitting the mark.  Based on my experience in dealing with the various interested parties, it’s obvious that most parents have shamelessly ranked their children’s needs – irrespective of the cost and impact on others – as a top priority.  The teachers, along with their union, have exploited the PTO’s misguided agenda over the years.  Thus, the PTO has been a willing partner and the disaster that has resulted was predictable.  Face it.  Look elsewhere if you are trying to implement reform.  For parents, whatever the cost, it doesn’t matter as long as their kids get what they want.”

I used to think that most of the parents either simply act out of fear or honestly believe that they are doing the right thing.  Now I have some doubts based on the above comments.  Obviously, some have to know that the EWSD is a dysfunctional organization that is not serving the best interests of the parents, schoolchildren, seniors and taxpayers.  As I have repeatedly stated, the District’s ranking and reputation is in a freefall decline, the student:teacher ratio is 9.75:1.0, the annual per capita student cost is $30,000+, there is essentially no accountability in the District, teacher absenteeism is rampant, Wheatley seniors are having difficulty getting into the school of their choice, and some seniors lack college preparedness.  The teachers are teaching less, their indifference has increased, and the teacher role model is a thing of the past.  Astonishingly, the parents have come to accept this.  The ax is certain to fall when their child(ren) reach graduation age.  Yet, the parents in our District appear not to be concerned.  You the parents – need to make the call at this point in time.

Our District needs to turn things around.  The 9.75/1.0 ratio is insane; it is simply not acceptable.  Our district needs an organization and/or a Superintendent who will correct this ratio.  This simple action, which will positively affect our community, is understandably opposed by the teachers and the administrators, as well as the present corrupt Board.  The self-serving PTO officers and many of the members are also willing to sit on the sidelines.

Here are a few points to keep in mind regarding the PTO:

  1. Remember the 2010 budget vote?  The PTO sent out a last-minute flyer to the voters that was full of lies.  I dissected the flyer’s contentions in a “Letter to the Editor” and proved that EVERY point they raised was a LIE.  Guess what?  They never responded.  Imagine being called a liar and not responding.  But then again, this is how this organization operates.  It is unfortunate that most parents are unwilling to accept the fact that lying and indifference truly characterizes the EWSD PTO.
  2. Most people I know believe the PTO uses resources that they are not legally entitled to.  I know it and can prove it.  The former Superintendent offered cunningly worded denials of this fact since she knew there have been too many parents involved in this improper activity (who can prove me right).
  3. Last year, there were large budget-related signs posted above the three EWSD schools.  I sent letters requesting an explanation as to who paid for the signs and who authorized the placing of these signs at the three schools.  Interestingly, the signs were taken down within a few days following my “FOIL” submission.  I received a signed statement indicating that “no such documentation exists” regarding the expenditure or authorization.  Well, how could this have possibly come about?  Here is how they got around it.  Later, buried in a Board agenda action item was the following: “Recommendation to accept with appreciation the gift of budget banners from the PTO Coordinating Council.”  This certified, beyond any doubt, the PTO is as corrupt as former Superintendent Lewis, the Board, the teachers, and the teacher’s union.  They were all involved (in my opinion) in this corrupt conduct.
  4. I’ve asked for an opportunity to address the PTO membership on numerous occasions.  Each request has been denied.  I believe the PTO officers simply want to retain an advantage for their kids over the children of the rank-and-file parents.  They have regular meetings, continue to congratulate themselves, conspire to squelch anyone and/or any group questioning their ineptness, and fiercely insist on maintaining the status quo.  Unfortunately, their policy of squelching the opposition is working.  Concerned parent members should demand an explanation.

What does all this mean?  The PTO leadership has sacrificed the best interests of the schoolchildren (and the taxpayers) in order to (perhaps?) gain an advantage for their kids with teachers and administrators, all at the expense of the children of other parents.  And if the other parents don’t believe this statement, I’ve got a bridge to sell them.  Simply put:  many parents have and continue to be duped.

I’ve concluded that the PTO will continue to ignore the call for reform in the future.  The parents, seniors and schoolchildren should not expect any relief in the immediate or near future.  It’s basically a lost cause.

I return next month to address issues involving the self-serving (or is corrupt more appropriate?) teachers and their union.

NEXT POSTING:      April 1, 2013 – The EWSD Teachers and Their Union


On East Williston School District (EWSD) Superintendent Dr. Elaine Kanas

January 31, 2013

 February 1, 2013

This one’s about the present EWSD Superintendent, Dr. Elaine Kanas.  I have both good news and bad news for the community.  The good news is that we are rid of former superintendent, Dr. Lorna Lewis.  The bad news is that her replacement doesn’t appear to have what it takes to do the job of instituting reform.

Everyone in the District remembers Lewis.  Three years ago, a former board member at Lewis’s earlier home base (Three Island), chided our School Board for not doing its due diligence prior to hiring Lewis.  This unfortunate hiring decision only accelerated our District’s decline, initiated earlier by former Board President, Bergtraum.  I repeatedly warned the community that Lewis was not only incompetent and untrustworthy but also looking to leave.  But many parents, routinely and successfully duped by the Kamberg board along with teachers and their union, came to believe she walked on water.  And time proved me correct, a fact that my deterrents have difficulty accepting (I also believe that Lewis got the job because she was African-American and a woman).

Well, history repeated itself.  Our lazy, incompetent School Board didn’t do its due diligence on Dr. Kanas either.  However, we did!

On the positive side, Dr. Kanas impressed me as a dedicated, concerned educator.  Unfortunately, she also initially appeared to me as someone who could be easily manipulated – a perfect candidate for both Kamberg and the teachers.

I have had two meetings with Dr. Kanas.  I first met Dr. Kanas a few weeks after she arrived last August.  At that time, I presented her with a list of particulars detailing the shortcomings of our district and a call for reform.   A copy of that note follows.

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.

Sincerely,

Lou Theodore

Instead of expressing dismay at my description of the current state of the District, Dr. Kanas indicated that there wasn’t enough proof to validate my statements and claims, and indicated that a committee would look into it in the near future.  I explained to the Superintendent that you didn’t need a Ph.D. to divide one number by another in order to verify my claims.  I also explained that committees don’t get things done and that any meaningful recommendations of reform to whatever committee would be ignored by both the corrupt Board and equally corrupt teachers and their union.  I became convinced that nothing meaningful would occur with Dr. Kanas as Superintendent…and my concerns have been confirmed at this point in time.

Two of Dr. Kanas’ favorite terms during our discussions were strategic and comprehensive, two popular Madison Avenue clichés.  Any time I hear someone using either or both of these words, that individual gets tuned out since I know from past experience that the individual is either clueless or trying to con me, or both.  Dr. Kanas appears to be in this category.

More than six months have elapsed since I tried to get to the bottom of class sizes and teacher absenteeism.  Thanks to Assistant Superintendent for Business Fitzpatrick, I still don’t have the necessary background information and data to perform a meaningful analysis of both these problems.   Although responsible for fulfilling FOIL requests, she has successfully stalled the process.  The bottom line is that my repeated calls for Fitzpatrick to go (and not be replaced) have been ignored.  Thank you Dr. Kanas.

Can Dr. Kanas turn things around in the EWSD?  I doubt it, given the past conduct of Kamberg, the present Board, earlier Boards, plus the teachers and their union.  The District needs a strong Superintendent who will stand up to the self-serving exploiters in our community.  Unfortunately, Dr. Kanas has not even remotely demonstrated either the willingness and/or capability to do so; six months have elapsed and she still hasn’t figured out what’s wrong with our District.

I return next month and will detail how the PTO leadership and membership are contributing to the demise of our school system and adversely affecting both the schoolchildren and taxpayers.

NEXT POSTING:      The Parent Teachers Organization (PTO), March 1, 2013


ON THE EAST WILLISTON SCHOOL DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD

December 29, 2012

January 1, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.  First and foremost, I need to thank those who have continued to provide support and encouragement during this past year.  As many of you are aware, the newsletter was launched last year and addressed issues involving Hofstra basketball, the unfolding disaster associated with Barack Hussein Obama, and the continued deterioration of the quality of the East Williston School District (EWSD).

We now return to the EWSD, which was the major driving force in my attempt to provide our community with a voice regarding District matters.  This and the next four articles (with accompanying scheduled dates of posting) will address the following issues:

February 1:       Superintendent Dr. Kanas

March 1:           The Parent Teacher Organization

April 1:             The Teachers and Their Union

May 1:              The Budget Vote

However, an additional article (or two) may appear along the way.

No discussion of the EWSD would be complete without mention of the School Board and its members.  What follows is an edited and updated version of the article written approximately one year ago.

The EWSD is presently in decline with its national ranking having plummeted, rampant teacher absenteeism, a present superintendent that is both unqualified and incompetent plus an embarrassment to the District, difficulty in placing Wheatley seniors in the school of their choice, $150,000+  annual teacher salaries plus massive additional benefits, $30,000+ annual cost per student, a 9.75 student to teacher ratio that continues to decline, a refusal to eliminate waste, a refusal to eliminate self-serving polices of Israel (earlier) for himself and (presently) his wife Bartscherer, etc., etc. The end result is that EWSD residents pay the highest average school taxes in Nassau County (because of the massive waste), the economic effect of which has been to unnecessarily depress property value.   In order to explain this shocking predicament, one needs to examine both the past and present members of the EWSD Board.

Well, what about the past.  Here’s my take on what came down earlier.  It was Entine who started the massive giveaway program.  She was followed by Bergtraum who was possessed by a quest for power despite her incompetence.  It was Bergtraum, more than anyone else, who is responsible for the District’s present problems by allowing the self-serving policies of former teacher and Union President David Israel to run the EWSD; further, she refused to act on any recommendation that did not agree with her misguided agenda.  Then there was school board members Karol, Wasserman, Roher, Kaplan (a total incompetent), Ritz (a Delilah), etc.  This was the group that supported the teachers and their union as well as most of the measures discussed above that fostered the District’s present situation.  It was this same group who were campaigning/pushing for a fourth building (Bergtraum/Entine were on the board; Wasserman/Kaplan co-chairs of the campaign).  Where would our District (and taxes) be now with a 4th building?!?!  Other districts are closing schools, i.e. Mineola.  Thankfully, they lost that election—and no 4th building.   Along the way, the District was fortunate to have the services of Eleanor Zatlin, Robert Kushner, Sigi Huhn, and John O’Kelly who attempted—but unfortunately were unable—to mend a broken school district.

The present Board?  I shudder every time I think of them.  Once again, here is my take (on the four from last year).

  1. Kamberg:  He is President of the Board.  Some of us justifiably refer to him as Konberg since he is an untrustworthy, sweet-talking, self-serving con man.  My file on him is almost as thick as those for Superintendent Lewis and former President Ritz.

These cases come to mind regarding Konberg:

  1. He used any and all tactics to get elected to the      Board.  Some of us consider his tactics to be borderline      fanatical.  He and his supports spread vicious and (false)      anti-Semitic rumors attributed to Huhn.
  2. This desperado, in his frantic attempt to get      elected, also courted the senior vote with a free luncheon at      Jonathans.  I wonder what those seniors who got conned and voted for      Konberg think now.
  3. Following Wasserman’s removal from the Board, he      refused to allow an election.  Instead, he and his cohorts      “interviewed” prospective and interested individuals.  He/they chose      Freier, Konberg’s yes man.  Despite the Board lacking any financial      background/ experience/ expertise, Huhn was bypassed.  I also      interviewed for the job and outlined how they could better assist our high      school seniors in gaining admission to the school of their choice.       They frantically took notes, but in the end, they apparently did nothing      since it involved work on the part of some of the Administrators (guidance      counselors, associates, etc.), a part of the fat on the staff who are      there to simply cash their checks.
  4. Refused to ask teachers for any givebacks in      2010-11.  Provided, former Superintendant Lewis with a 5-year      extension, thus tying the hands of the District (Fortunately Lewis is gone      with the jury still out on Dr. Kanas.       The School Boards did not do their due diligence for either Lewis      or Kanas).  Also provided the teachers this year with a senseless sweetheart      contract extension.
  5. Lied to the community about the real salary      increases the teachers received and will be receiving in the future.
  6. Refused to comment when Lewis publicly drew an      analogy between me and the Gestapo.

Of course, there’s more. At my end, there are some of my academic and business ethics lectures (based on my book) where I have used Konberg—along with Israel, Bergtraum and Ritz—in case-study analyses.  But as far as I am concerned, Konberg should presently be barred from the school grounds.

  1. Freier:  Strictly Konberg’s stooge.  No experience with education or finance.  Where did Konberg find this guy (Fortunately, he is gone.   Why?  I’ve been informed that he no longer has children in the school system)?
  2. Keefe:  Keefe was “elected” when he ran unopposed.  He is a former teachers’ union president who is obviously a teachers’ union man.  Make no mistake.  He is there to represent the teachers—not the taxpayers, senior citizens, and, most importantly, the schoolchildren.
  3. Fallarino:  As a former Board member put it, “he has tried desperately to play both ends against the middle, and failed miserably.”  A major disappointment and an individual not to be trusted.
  4. Slone:  “Elected” when she ran unopposed.  An absolute zero, totally devoid of the minimum necessary qualifications, who simply should not be on the Board.  If she had any pride, she would resign.

Why do these people serve on the Board?  Reasons have already been documented but I believe they are there to primarily gain an advantage for their kids or grandkids at the expense (as noted in an earlier article) of the kids of other members of our community.  If you don’t believe that statement, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.  What parent believes that if their youngster and the child of a Board member were being considered for valedictorian, that—given how the District operates—their kid would be selected (I’m still trying to locate The New York Times when this happened at another District).    For example, Keefe’s daughter was recently hired for a EWSD position.  Innocent?  Was the hiring process truly objective?  You make the call.

I close by issuing a call to members of our district who are concerned about taxes, seniors, and (most importantly) schoolchildren to consider running for the Board this May.  I hate to put it this way, but almost anybody would be better than what we have now.

The EWSD annual budget/levy has INCREASED 24.7% over the past 6-year period, while enrollment has DECREASED by 112 students.  Many teachers’ unions, in cooperation with their boards, have agreed to freeze salaries and waive the step increase.  The district needs to ask Kamberg why it hasn’t happened here.  Waste, absenteeism, etc., is unfortunately the norm in the
EWSD, which in turn has reduced both the quality of education and the District’s ranking.  Since the value of our houses is inversely proportioned to school taxes, the impossible-to-justify tax INCREASES have also resulted in DECREASED house values.  Did we need any other justification to vote NO on the budget last year?

No doubt many of you read an article in Newsday last year reporting that our District’s ranking continues to freefall and is currently 246, down again from 55 the previous year.  In addition, the student:teacher ratio in the top four schools on Long Island is 12, 13, 14 and 16 – as compared to our 9.75.  Stuyvesant (my alma mater) is at 21.  21!!!  The figures simply don’t lie:  Kamberg and his crew, along with the teachers and their union, are destroying our District with the present waste plus their incompetence and indifference.   We are now officially an also-ran.   Even Governor Cuomo has described the school systems as “ineffective, wasteful, and bureaucratic.”  Folks, you had an opportunity to put a stop to this School Board’s conduct regarding financial matters by voting NO on the budget last May.  Unfortunately, it passed with flying colors – a tribute to the intelligence of some of the members of our community, particularly most of the parents who are gluttons for punishment and have been successfully brainwashed by the PTO.

Next Posting:  February 1, Dr. Elaine Kanas, EWSD, Superintendent


ON THE BUDGET VOTE

May 31, 2012

The EWSD annual budget/levy has INCREASED 24.7% over the past 6-year period, while enrollment has DECREASED by 112 students.  Many teachers’ unions, in cooperation with their boards, have agreed to freeze salaries and waive the step increase.  The district needs to ask Kamberg why it hasn’t happened here.  Waste, absenteeism, etc., is unfortunately the norm in the EWSD, which in turn has reduced both the quality of education and the District’s ranking.  Since the value of our houses is inversely proportioned to school taxes, the impossible-to-justify tax INCREASES have also resulted in DECREASED house values.  Did we need any other justification to vote NO on the budget?

No doubt many of you read (Newsday, 5/9) that our District’s ranking continues to freefall and is currently 246, down again from 55 last year.  In addition, the student:teacher ratio in the top four schools onLong Island is 12, 13, 14 and 16 – as compared to our 9.75.  Stuyvesant (my alma mater) is at 21.  The figures simply don’t lie:  Kamberg and his crew, along with the teachers and their union, are destroying our District with the waste and indifference.  We are now officially an also-ran.  Even Governor Cuomo has described the school systems as “ineffective, wasteful, and bureaucratic.”  Folks, you had an opportunity to put a stop to this School Board’s conduct regarding financial matters by voting NO on the budget earlier this month.  Unfortunately, it passed with flying colors – a tribute to the intelligence of the members of our community, particularly most of the parents who are gluttons for punishment.

To see what happened in neighboring Syosset, please view: http://video.foxbusiness.com/v/161948656800/.  Obviously a high school senior was able to figure out what the parents haven’t been able to figure out, i.e., that School Boards are both corrupt and wasteful, and that there is a need for change.  Perhaps that is the solution for the EWSD.  We need Wheatley seniors to ignore the useless PTO and replace our presently corrupt Board.

With the 2012-13 EWSD budget vote behind us, I now plan to turn to the November Presidential election.  As many of you know, I am an independent who is now anti-Democratic (party) and fiercely anti-liberal.  The coming issues will primarily examine President Obama.  I believe that Obama is not deserving of another term because he is a liar, incompetent, racist, nasty, unqualified, a crook, an egomaniac, a socialist/communist, and (finally) anti-American.  Because of the importance of this election, there will be an article on the 15th and last day of each of the coming months.  Article dates are provided below:

June 14                  Being a Liar

June 30                  Being Incompetent

July 14                    Being Racist

July 31                     Being Nasty

August 15              Being Unqualified

August 31               Being a Crook

September 15       Being an Egomaniac

September 30      Being a Socialist/Communist

October 15            Being Anti-American

October 31             Final Thoughts

Here is a warm-up of what’s to come.  This involves some of Obama’s cohorts.  Here are some beauties – talking about liars and dumb people.

Vice President Joe Biden:

“Between tax relief, direct and shovel-ready prospects, the Recovery Act has created or retained between 2.2 and 2.8 million jobs.”

FACT:  Hardly any new jobs were created.

“The Stimulus is doing more, faster, more efficiently, more effectively than most expected.”

FACT:  Some voters actually believe this.

“I think I have a much higher IQ than you do.  I went to law school on a full academic scholarship and ended up in the top half of the class.”

FACT:  He may be confused.  He received a half scholarship and finished 70th out of 85.

Remember, this guy is 1 heartbeat away…….

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:

“We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”

FACT:  Wow!

“Republicans are destroying the public space of clean air, water, food safety, the education of our children and the health, financial security of our seniors.”

FACT:  There are also voters who actually believe this.

“Democrats intend to lead the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history.”

FACT:  There are also voters who actually believe this.

“We have an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in our country who need our help.”

FACT:  Quite frankly, I’m not willing to provide more benefits and entitlements.

“It (unemployment insurance) injects demand into the economy.  It creates jobs faster than almost any other initiative you can name.”

FACT:  Would you work if you were paid not to work?

Robert Gibbs:

“The bill contains unprecedented accountability and transparency.  There are no earmarks in the bill.”

FACT:  There were over 8,000 earmarks.

Tom Daschle:

“Make no mistake; tax cheaters cheat us all, and the IRS should enforce the law to the letter.”

FACT:  He is a tax cheat who has not been prosecuted.

President of the Service Employees InternationalUnion:

“We spent a fortune to elect Obama – $60.7 million to be exact.”

FACT:  Obama had promised: “We’re not taking any contributions from Washington, lobbyists or political action committees.”

Janet Napolitano:

Described homecoming veterans as “right-wing rednecks”, preferred “overseas contingency operations” to “war on Terrorism”, described the Islamic Fort Hood murderer as “an isolated extremist”, and does not support voter ID requirements.

FACT:  This woman is an Obama-appointee andU.S.citizen.

Anita Dunn (Communications Director):

“Mao Tse Tung is one of my favorite philosophers whom I turn to most for answers to important questions.”

FACT:  What most of us now know is that this guy was worse than Hitler and Stalin combined.

USEPA Administrator Lisa Jackson:

“For every $1 we have spent, we have gotten $40 of benefits in turn and the USEPA is one of the most successful programs in American history.”

FACT: Truly incredulous statements.  I wrote an article in 1995 (EPA’s Silver anniversary) justifying it be dissolved.  It is now significantly worse.  This woman is dumber than Obama, Biden, and Pelosi combined.

The Last Lady, Michelle Obama:

“Most American lives have gotten progressively worse since I was a little girl.”

FACT:  Could she be that dumb?  Nah!  I believe it is just a lie.

“For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country.”

FACT:  I’ve been proud of my country my entire life.

Senator Barbara Boxer:

“Industries that provide environmental protection have created more than a million jobs.”

FACT:  But at what cost to our economy and loss of other jobs?  Has she (or any environmentalist) ever done a cost-benefit analysis?

Senator Chris Dodd:

“One of the great success stories of all time – one of the great engines of economic success over the past 30 or 40 years.”

FACT:  Get this:  He was talking about Freddie Mac and Fannie May.

Representative Maxine Waters (voted the most corrupt elected official):

“We do not have a crisis at Freddie Mac, and in particular at Fannie Mae, under the outstanding leadership of Frank Raines.”

FACT:  Raines was an economic adviser to Obama and was forced to resign.

Secretary of Treasury Tim Geithner:

“There is no risk theUScould lose its AAA credit rating.”

FACT:  Well, we all make mistakes.

Yep, we all make mistakes.  The key is to learn from our mistakes.   Hopefully those of you who voted for Obama have……

The next posting is scheduled for June 15th.  It will be concerned with Barack Hussein Obama and is entitled “Being a Liar.”


On Teachers

April 1, 2012

BLOCKBUSTER NEWS!!!  I’ve just (3/31) been informed by two sources that Superintendent Lorna Lewis is finally gone, and has accepted a position atPlainview.  Was it her yelling and nasty exchanges with some parents who were unhappy?  Was it my February article that detailed her incompetence and questioned her qualification?  I don’t know yet.  But, I really believe at this time (11:00 PM, 3/31) that my sources are correct, and she will be leaving.  This may be the beginning of the process that will provide an opportunity for the EWSD community to not only put an end to the self-serving of this (particularly Kamberg) and previous Boards but also set in notion the return of our District to one of prominence.  The selection of the new Superintendent should be made by the community, including the PTO membership, and NOT Kamberg and his cronies.

On Teachers

Folks, this one is about East Williston School District (EWSD) teachers.  Four words come to mind when I think of most of the EWSD teachers:  indifference, mean-spirited, greedy, and parasitic.  What follows is an attempt to provide the basis for this statement.

As I’ve indicated in the past, the teachers’ union and the teachers themselves have consistently exploited both the schoolchildren and the taxpayers with rampart absenteeism.  Here are some of the problems that exist in the EWSD—problems that continue to go unchecked.  In addition to just simply and regularly taking off days at their whim, our teachers have been known to take leave from class for l or 2 periods.  An in-house teacher with a free period replaces the absent teacher.  There is no impact on the teacher.  The impact on the schoolchildren is a class with a replacement who may or may not be qualified and/or concerned.  The impact on the taxpayer is that the replacement teacher is paid, including additional retirement benefits, by our taxes.  The net effect is that the teacher is provided free time (an expense-paid vacation), the schoolchildren are short-changed in the classroom, the replacement teacher is provided a hefty “consulting” fee, and the taxpayer, as usual, gets shorted.  Teachers also take leave (they have unlimited sick leave) based on his or her own children being sick at home.  (Folks, I’m not making this up).  The net impact of this outrageous conduct?  I think you can figure this one out.

Eleanor Zatlin kept information in the past on teacher absenteeism.  I’ve requested but been denied this information by school administrators—in violation of the law.  But it is the job of Lewis (our superintendent) and/or the principals to maintain records and stop the abuse.  And, it is the Boards’ job to demand this information from Lewis and her principals.  Will any of these “concerned and dedicated” individuals take action?  Does anyone really think that Lewis, the principals, the Board, and/or the PTA, etc., are going to look into these abuses being perpetrated on both the schoolchildren and the taxpayers?  Of course not.

A January 3, 2010 Sunday The New York  Times article by Carolyn Bucior had this to say about teachers (not taken out of context):  “Nationwide, 5.2 percent of teachers are absent on any given day, a rate three times as high as that of professionals outside teaching and more than one and half times as high as that of teachers in Britain . . . Teachers in America are most likely to be absent on Fridays, followed by Mondays (parents should check the parking lots on these days if they don’t believe this) . . . This means that children have substitute teachers for nearly a year of their kindergarten-through-12th grade education . . . principals should keep track of all teacher absences.”

For what it is worth, a colleague (who recently passed away) NEVER missed a day of school during his 44 year tenure.  I missed one day (while in the hospital) in 55 years.  How does this stack up with EWSD teachers?

Here is more on my recent experiences.  Unfortunately, it is limited to contact with only exchanges with three Wheatley students:

  1. This summer at the Williston Park Pool, a youngster was dribbling a basketball alongside me and the two Lumpp brothers (Ray and Wil).  We started a conversation with the boy on basketball and found out that he attended Wheatley.  I proceeded to ask about the quality of education he was receiving and teacher absenteeism.  Although not having a true basis for comparison, he indicated that he was satisfied with the teachers.  He also indicated that, on average, one teacher was absent from class every day.  I indicated that the absenteeism figure was too high, but he stood firm.  The three of us couldn’t believe what we were hearing.
  2. Later last summer, I ran into another Wheatley student working as a cashier in a local supermarket.  He too noted that there was widespread absenteeism but not to the same degree as the other student.
  3. I met another Wheatley student (a senior) working as a cashier in a supermarket late last Fall.  I also questioned him on both concerns.  Surprisingly, he stated that recent Wheatley graduates (presently in college) had indicated that they were not as prepared as they could have been, particularly in English.

I want to once again comment on the teachers and their union’s arrogant and greedy position on raises and benefits.  Given the union’s insistence during contract negotiation that they be provided raises and benefits that other working individuals are not provided, does anyone question their greed and insensitivity to community concerns.  Their past history of student and parent intimidation, unprofessional behavior, unreasonable demands, and work ethics is a sad commentary on the present state of our District.  I wish I could detail comments from parents explaining their unwillingness to either speak out for fear or retaliation by some teachers.  Only time will tell on how long the community will continue to ignore this teacher blackmail.

How the teachers’ conduct continues to go unchecked without a responsible individual raising a red flag and demanding answers is absolutely amazing.  Where are Kamberg, Freier, etc., the PTA, and the Principals?  No one is surprised with do-nothing Lewis.  But what an embarrassment and disgrace Kamberg  (as President) has turned out to be.

Here’s what local resident and teacher Bill Wickes had to say earlier.  “I have come to be embarrassed to be included in the heading of teacher.  Teachers in my home district of East Williston have lost sight of why they chose this profession.  They have attempted to intimidate parents and students with their protests at awards nights and field days.  They do not show the respect that they demand.”

I have been accused by EWSD teachers of “hating” teachers.  This, despite the fact that I have dedicated my life to education, and have served as a mentor to numerous teachers and administrators (details available on request).  In addition, most of my friends are teachers or retired teachers, and nearly all of them support my position.  All of us are disgusted with the conduct of the EWSD teachers, conduct that includes the aforementioned intimidation tactics against parents and retaliation policies against 6 year old and older schoolchildren.

Suburban teachers maintain that they are dedicated professionals.  What in the world is the rest of the work force?  To hear the EWSD teachers, you would think they were God’s gift to society.  Regarding these teachers, I have more respect for the NYC teacher, who I believe is as dedicated, if not more so, because they are exposed to combat duty, often on a daily basis.

Although part of the above is rhetoric, one needs to examine teachers’ salaries relative to others.  As with some other professions, e.g., medicine, I believe it is disproportionate relative to the rest of the work force.  Present-day salaries simply cannot be justified, particularly for those whose salaries are approaching $150,000/year.  When one considers the salary, perks, health benefits, abbreviated work days, extensive vacation periods, workplace environment, other educational opportunities, retirement plans, etc., of the suburban teacher, it is hard not to conclude that these individuals have it made.  Make no mistake about it, they have it made!  I ought to know, because I was part of a similar system—only at another level–with lower salaries and reduced benefits.

And then there is job security.  Today, most taxpayers no longer have the luxury of job security.  In the old days, one might receive a DCM at any time, as it was called during the depression era—Don’t Come Monday.  Being tenured means not having to worry about losing your job.  What is this worth?  When I was growing up, it was worth enough that teachers who earned significantly less than the rest of the work force were grateful for their job.  I know when I accepted a teaching position in 1960 for $6,000 a year, a salary substantially below what my colleagues were accepting in industry and business, I did so for two reasons:  the desire to teach and the benefits mentioned above.

In any event, I am still waiting and hoping for the day when some EWSD teachers will stand up and be counted.

P.S.            Lewis and her crew continue to be in violation of the law, a violation that could result in reduction of state aid.  It is now three months and they have failed to deliver on all my requested material, without even an apology.