In response to the failed budget vote on May 21, the Superintendent’s office and the Board of Education have spent the last two weeks drilling down on the numbers to craft a 2013-14 revised budget that seeks, as the priority, to protect the quality of the Manhasset Public Schools’ academic curriculum. The revised budget, which results in a 1.97 percent tax levy increase (in contrast to the prior proposed 5.98 percent tax levy increase) reflects reductions, concessions and compromises across the board. Every aspect of the budget has been reviewed, and aspects that could be tweaked without destroying the core have been tweaked, including costs relating to administration, teachers, and before and after school programs and activities (including interscholastic athletics and clubs) that will impact each of the elementary schools, the middle school, and the high school.
I have heard from people who believe that extracurricular activities and elective courses such as athletics, drama, science research, computer graphics, music, and the like can be cut from the school budget, because parents can simply pay to send their kids to commercial programs in the area. So I did a little investigating and came up with some interesting facts and figures.
• Music lessons at a local establishment run approximately $60/45 minute lesson for 40 weeks. Which is, more or less, what are kids are getting in school. That totals $2,400.
The Manhasset Press interview with Superintendent of Schools Charles Cardillo was—to use his own word—disappointing. It stated that if the voters did not vote “yes” to his budget cap busting budget, then all of the school “extra” activities would be immediately cut. It seemed to be this standard, tired, age-old veiled threat for us to pay or our children would not be allowed to play. He is right, a district such as Manhasset deserves better. Is this what we expect from our school board leadership?
The Manhasset School Board heard the community after the failure of passing the budget on May 21. After a series of open board meetings, the district presented a revised budget for adoption on June 3 in an open meeting at the high school. After a two-hour discussion and Q & A, the board voted on the revised budget, and it was unanimously adopted. This reduced budget reflects the cuts needed (approximately $3.1 million) to reduce the tax levy increase to a level the district feels most community members will support, 1.97 percent. (An overview of the major cuts are on page 10.)
If the vote fails, the District will be on austerity, and that means, among other things, no sports, no clubs, no before or after school activities, and larger class sizes at the elementary level. Sports at the schools cannot be privately funded unless that funding is provided for all sports teams, not just some of them.
This week we were alerted that the Village of Plandome Manor is now requiring all hot tubs and swimming pools to be inspected by the village’s crack team of inspectors. It seems that these days, the hyper-regulating village board stays busy issuing rules and regs on every aspect of our lives.
This hot tub inspection makes me wonder if we all must wear our swim trunks during this new inspection, or can we remain in our birthday suits? Besides the matter of clothes, if we have closed the hot tub for the summer months, must we reopen it for the summer inspection schedule of our government in order to accommodate their latest rulings? The myriad of issues surrounding the hot tub and pools scares me as to what they may inspect next. My refrigerator cleanliness? My washing machine? My water closet?
The following letter was sent to Manhasset Board of Education President Carlo Prinzo, with a copy to the Manhasset Press.
It was brought to my attention that on Tuesday, May 21, 2013, automated phone calls were made to Manhasset School District residents in opposition to your budget.
The resident who contacted me indicated that the automated message indicated that it was made by the Manhasset Republican Club, whose president is quoted in Newsday regarding your budget.
When the budget is put of for a revote on June 18, it is incumbent on every person who is a homeowner or has a child in the school district to vote Yes. The cuts that will have to be made in order to get to the two percent cap are so severe that it almost doesn’t seem worth it to have a school district at all. At stake are all before- and after-school clubs, music and singing programs, all sports programs, some language programs, and cuts to classes other than the core curriculum. If you have young children, you have the most to lose since your children will have to go through middle and high school with a severely limited program. If you have children in the secondary schools, you must vote Yes if you want your child to get into any college. What will your child list as extra-curricular activities they participated in if there are none? If you are a homeowner, you must vote Yes. If the budget fails, there will be a glut of homes for sale in Manhasset and no one will want to buy them. Our property values will go down and our taxes will stay the same or increase in any event. Sadly, our district will be no better than the poorest school in the city system. Manhasset will be the poster child for everything that is wrong with our state government in Albany, which forces school districts to pay for pensions and state mandates without giving them the ability to get the funds. It will make for a chilling documentary, though. It can be titled “Manhasset—Long Island’s Detroit.”
Congratulations Manhasset, the school budget was defeated handily on Tuesday. I get it. Nobody wants to see their taxes increased. I don’t want to see my taxes go up either. I hate paying more taxes. But you know what I hate worse? The decimation of a once proud community.
Manhasset has had two fundamental assets that are the tent poles of attraction to residents and potential homebuyers (I’m not including our thriving shopping on Plandome Road—sarcasm intended).
I had to re-stake the ‘NO NO NO’ sign at the Plandome Station since it was cast aside for a ‘Vote YES’ sign. The get-out-the-vote effort for the school budget voting is huge and does not bode well for a ‘NO’ vote against this voluntary tax increase.
Many families move to Manhasset for the schools and are willing to pay for them since they plan to move as soon as the kids are out of school. That is all good but residents that are the core long term homeowners are left to pay their massive tax bills. It seems we are only renting our homes from the taxman!
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