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Open Letter to Rocky Point School District Residents: Part 1

Should what you want matter?

On November 19, 2012, the residents of the Rocky Point School District will be voting on a $1.9 million capital improvement project.  There is only one proposition on the ballot, but there are three separate projects involved: (1) reconstruction of instructional laboratories ($300,000), (2) replacement of existing grass football field with synthetic turf ($1,010,000), and (3) reconstruction of existing running track/field ($680,000). 

 According to the RP Board 70% of the project costs will be reimbursed by the state, which brings the actual cost to the district down to $597,000. (However, the $1.9 million will all be paid for by tax dollars, some local, some state.) This money is already in the Capital Reserve Improvement Fund. So, according to the Board it will not cost us anything--what an economic concept:  If you spend money you’ve saved, it doesn’t cost you anything! And, of course, we still have to pay for maintenance and future replacement costs.  But this Board doesn’t seem to be worried about that.

On September 24, 2012 (monthly BOE meeting), the Board announced that the three projects would be presented for a vote as one proposition.  They explained that project 2 (synthetic turf for football field) and project 3 (renovating the track) had to be linked to an inside project (renovating the labs) in order to be reimbursed by the state.

 To quote from the Minutes of that meeting: “Dr. Ring and the board explained in detail that the district will receive state aid for outside improvements only if bundled with indoor improvements.” This certainly makes it sound like there is no choice.

However, later in the same meeting Board President Nofi said that “the board decided that the referendum will be presented as one item and not three separate items.”

 This makes it sound like there was a choice--but some of us were certainly confused.

 It turns out that it’s possible to let residents vote on the three separate items and still get the state aid. If the statement “IN ORDER FOR EITHER/BOTH ITEMS 2 (THE SYNTHETIC TURF) AND/OR 3 (RENOVATING THE TRACK) TO PASS, ITEM 1 (THE LABS) MUST PASS” were added to the proposition, we could vote to pass any or all parts and all the parts THAT PASS will be state aidable as long as item 1 passes!

 This was done in 2010 in Miller Place. Three separate items were under consideration, but all three were not approved by the voters.  So why is the Rocky Point board not willing to do the same thing? The only answer is they’re afraid they won’t get what they want.  They want the turf, are afraid the voters may not want it, and therefore are not giving the voters the right to be able to vote on the parts they do want.

 According to the New York State Department of Education, there is nothing illegal about what this Board is choosing to do. And our only recourse is to vote it down. So, send a message to this Board that they can’t keep doing business as usual. You can vote this down and then vote them out when they come up for reelection.

If you support renovating the labs, which I do, remember that seven labs have already been renovated and the remaining three can be renovated  next year. Then, rather than putting all this money into the fields, we can ask that all the bathrooms be fixed, which some parents have said are an embarrassment.  At one of the meetings a mother said she won’t let her kids use the bathrooms. That’s a sad state of affairs. The Board is supposed to reflect what the community wants, NOT tell us what we want or what a small group of people want.

The vote is on November 19th.  We need to do what’s right for all the kids, not just a select few or the special interest--since the Board doesn’t seem to be willing to do it.  Vote No on November 19!

 And don’t forget about the next School Board meeting on October 29th at 7 p.m. at the Carasiti school.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Ernestine Franco October 25, 2012 at 09:48 PM
Sorry to anyone who has read this blog before I had the date of the Board meeting fixed. I initally had Spetember 29 but a friend called and told me about the mistake. And then Rich Arlo kindly fixed it to the correct date: October 29th. Hope to see more people there.
Phillip October 26, 2012 at 11:03 AM
They've given us no choice but to vote it down. I to0 would want to see the labs refurbished. And that's what they're counting on. And, again they're saying it's for the kids. Trust me, it's not about the majority of the kids. Most kids don't want to play sports 24/7--and they shouldn't! Our schools' main function should be about educating our kids. What ever happened to three R's? This country is still the wealthiest in the world but our kids rank in the 20's as far as their education. I've seen seniors who can't write a paper. Our math and science is rated lower than many other industrialized countries. We need to send our educators a message. They need to be more worried about educating our kids rather than making sure they can play sports 24/7. Let's get real about our priorities!

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