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Letter: Sudden Death For The Collective Interest

“A school district is no better than the community that it serves and vice versa.”  

That is what Chip Zaino, Sr. said to me when I was first elected to the board. The statement is profound as it is simple. The fact is that we cannot get a better community without a better school district and the citizens of the community are responsible for their school district. 

May 15 is our school budget and trustee election. If you want a better school system or if you want a better community,you need to participate in this voting process or you abdicate your interest to those that may not necessarily be aligned to what is good for our community.

From my perspective, the only way to get what is in our collective interest is to do the following: vote no in May, vote yes in June, and vote for candidates that have the community’s interest at heart.

What is different this year and for subsequent years to come is if the budget fails in May and again in June, the tax levy will not increase over last year’s levy. That is significant! That is why you see an unprecedented effort by interested parties campaigning to get a passed budget on the first try. These parties do not want to compromise on salary increases, work rules, lost jobs, or other amenities for which they feel they are entitled. Their interest may not be in our best interest as a community. Likewise, voting no because one is exhausted in paying taxes, as painful as it is for me to say, is not necessarily in our interest either.

Hence, a good option may be to push the budget vote to sudden death – that is to say no in May to make the interested parties come to the table with the community to get a budget and school improvement plan that is aligned with the community’s interest. We can approve the spending plan for the district in June after we are confident that our interests are represented.

My other suggestion is to focus on the candidates for school board and elect the ones that only represent the interest of the community as a whole. Doing that makes the sudden death option unnecessary for future election. We all have a collective interest to make our community and school system great. This may be the best alternative to get us on the right path for the future.

Stanton Brown
Former Westbury Board of Education trustee