Friday, 10 May 2013 00:00
Regina Rule and Craig Anderson are running uncontested for re-election to the Manhasset Board of Education. Each has submitted a statement for the paper. The budget vote and board member election will be held on Tuesday, May 21, at the Manhasset Secondary School gymnasium, 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
My wife and I moved to Manhasset as our oldest child, then four, was approaching kindergarten age. So, like many Manhasset families we moved here for the great schools and, in our case, raise our family as third generation Manhasset residents.
After nearly three years serving the community as a trustee on the Manhasset School Board, my son is now 22 years old and will be graduating from Bucknell University in May. My oldest daughter, who is 19 years old, and is significantly handicapped, is schooled at a residential program better equipped to deal with her many special needs. My youngest daughter, now 14 years old, is enjoying ninth grade at Manhasset High School.
I am running for re-election because I would like to continue working to ensure the Manhasset school district remains a high performing and highly- ranked school district. My goal is to remain very fiscally prudent but to provide the schools with the ability to maintain their tradition of excellence. This is an increasingly difficult task, given the challenges presented by recent tax levy cap legislation and the lack of leadership in Albany to address skyrocketing pension costs, which are the real source of our budget challenges.
I think my record, while working with my fellow board members and the administration, has delivered for the Manhasset community. First, we’ve held the line on costs while continuing to provide excellent academic and extra-curricular programs. In my three years on the board, the average budget-to-budget increase has been 2.26 percent while the average tax levy has been 3.69 percent. We’ve delivered below average (relative to other districts in Nassau County) increases while absorbing radically increased pension and health care costs outside the district’s control and implementing other unfunded NYS mandates, such as the common core curriculum for math and English as well as the most comprehensive teacher evaluation program in Manhasset history. A few specific initiatives that demonstrate where we’ve held the line on costs include:
A new two-year agreement with our teachers was negotiated last year. They agreed to a 0 percent increase for this current school year and a one percent increase for the coming school year in addition to only one half the allowable step increase in each year.
No salary increases for most of the administrative team in the last three years.
Creatively using existing spaces to meet growing enrollment in each building as a bubble of high enrollment grades moves through the system.
Effectively using budgeted facilities maintenance funds for upkeep to avoid more costly repairs later due to lack of maintenance.
As a leadership group we also responded to community feedback on the responsible use of fund balance and reserves to lower the tax levies.
Second, we’ve maintained the 4A’s to provide all of our students tremendous opportunities. Scores for NYS standardized tests, Regents and AP exams, and the SAT’s are all routinely at the top in Nassau County rankings. Students participate in music, theatre, art, and athletics. College acceptances to top-tier colleges and universities, remain very high.
Third, the school board has greatly increased our communication of all budget related matters to the community.
Lastly, we’ve stepped up our interaction with the many supportive groups and continue to depend on private funding more than ever before. I am very grateful for the support all of these community groups.
On a professional level, I am a senior officer at a multi-channel marketing company. And, finally, on a personal level, I’ve coached the Manhasset Baseball League for six years and PAL girls’ lacrosse for four years. In the school community, I was a member of MAAC for six years, two of which as chair, and was a member of CAC Finance for three years.
I look forward to serving the Manhasset community for another three years with Regina Rule, my fellow board members, and the administration. I respectfully request your support.
I think our great schools are our most important shared asset; that is why I moved here. I was also attracted to our community by the pride taken in the quality of education that we provide our students. I am running for reelection so I can continue working to keep our schools premier, highly sought after, nationally ranked institutions that draw people to our community.
I am proud of my solid record as a fiscally responsible leader who works alongside our top-notch administrative team to support our excellent educational program for our students. Over the course of my term, the district’s benefit costs have increased by $6.5 million, yet our budget has only increased by $7.5 million, and we have kept the educational program intact while providing meaningful opportunities for growing numbers of students to perform at higher levels. I am proud that as a member of the board, we negotiated fiscally prudent contracts with our fine staff. The most recent two year contract with our teachers demonstrates that and includes a zero (0 percent) increase this year and only half a step; next year a 1 percent increase and only half a step in addition to other givebacks. If reelected, I will continue to fight to spend as little as possible, but what I feel is necessary, to keep our school program working and performing at the highest levels.
As a school community, we continue to face enormous challenges. I worry that factors outside our local control threaten Manhasset’s educational preeminence. The most pressing challenges include overcoming the recent legislative and undemocratic hurdle of getting a supermajority “Yes” vote of 60 percent to pass the budget on Tuesday, May 21, as well as the lack of Albany leadership delivering meaningful pension relief to taxpayers. I feel if our community values educational excellence and the reputation of our schools, we need to vote yes on Tuesday, May 21; this vote presents us a black and white choice on the educational program if this budget falters.
This budget vote will be important for our community for years to come. We need ‘Yes, One and Done’ to pass this budget on the first vote, otherwise, we begin to erode our community’s longstanding commitment to education and to being among the best schools in the country. Like it or not, you know as well as I do, that the outcome of this May 21 vote will affect our schools, our property values and our community’s future. We are all in this together, and I hope to have the opportunity to serve for three more years to work for what is best for our schools, for our taxpayers and for the best of the community.
Three years ago, I pledged to work collaboratively as we worked to construct and shape our vision for the schools for the next generation. I will continue to fulfill my pledge if reelected. I hope to continue to show my support for our outstanding, superhuman superintendent, Charlie Cardillo, and his superb leadership. Charlie has built a team of talented and dedicated educators and skilled administrators, and he has brought stability, pride, and a renewed commitment to scholarship in our schools. Charlie and the board’s record of fiscal responsibility is reflected in the fact that the schools have absorbed ongoing enrollment growth while living under a self imposed tax cap and keeping the average tax levy increase under 2.75 percent for the last five years. I feel that Charlie’s unselfish and unwavering devotion to our students, our schools and our community and the district’s leadership team’s record of fiscal responsibility deserves the community’s support in return.
These results of low tax levy and budget increases, in the face of significant and skyrocketing benefit increases, demonstrate a record of simultaneous academic achievement and fiscal responsibility that I hope the community will respect and support. On Tuesday, May 21, please support the budget, and please give me the opportunity to continue to contribute to the Manhasset team as a member of the board of education for the next three years.