Rocky Point School Budget Passes -- What Next?

We need to think long term.

After months of working on trying to defeat the Rocky Point School budget, yesterday the budget passed. Some may expect me to be disheartened, but I’m not. The fight continues.  Historically Rocky Point budgets have passed by a wide margin--68% in 2011, 67% in 2012.This year, because the budget exceeded the tax cap, it needed to pass by 60%. The lower percentage by which it passed--62%-- is a message from this community.  That message is that residents want an end to unsustainable budgets and an end to threats that programs will be cut.

 The discussion the last few months has at times been contentious, and I have often been accused of being against teachers and education. I am not! I respect the profession and am certain that most do an excellent job. As I’ve stated before, quality education benefits everyone and we should all work together to provide our young people with the best we can afford. But we all--educators and noneducators alike--need to have a dialogue about what will benefit everyone concerned. And this isn’t happening. And as long as educators take the request to share the pain as an attack, it won’t happen.

 I wish that school districts had all the money needed, but this isn’t the case, and we all know where most of the money goes--to salaries and benefits. My message today is that we avoid the threat of programs being cut in the future by asking that the teachers and administrators come to the table in good faith now.

 The Rocky Point School Board is in the process of negotiating a new teachers’ contract. We need to tell the Board that now is the time to act for the future of the district.  Telling us next year, during the budget process, that nothing can be done about contractual items is a cop-out. This is the time for them to act boldly and look for the money where most of it is spent--in the out-of-control salaries and benefits.

 I’m happy that kindergarten is safe, although that it was used to scare residents into voting yes is still a shame.  But, unless something is done now, unless this Board works to provide quality education in the long term, the same programs, and more, will be on the chopping block next year. Until we all are willing to look at where most of the money is spent and what threatens quality education--salaries and benefits--we will again be faced with loss of programs at the same time having to pay taxes many can no longer afford.

 So whether you’re a parent with children currently in the school, a resident who no longer has children in the school, a resident who never had children in the school, or an educator who wants to be part of the solution, start attending the school board meetings and let your voices be heard.


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HerbertC May 16, 2012 at 12:10 PM
You probably saw the insert in last week's Pennysaver from the RPSD Committee for Sustainable Budgets, e-mail csbnorthshore@gmail.com. They made a lot of interesting points that agree with your stand.
Charles Gerace May 16, 2012 at 02:50 PM
People from both sides of the issue made decisions with their heart and some without reason. Some voted scared when we should all be voting as informed members of the community. Some didn't show up to vote at all. The issues that surround these kinds of community decsions, that effect us all, are often twisted and distorted thus forfeiting the opportunity to have meaningful dialogue. For that to happen people have to first agree there's an issue to be resolved. I'm not sure we're at that point yet, but I'm hopeful.
HerbertC May 16, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Ernestine and Chales, you're both right. Everyone needs to come to the table and agree there is a problem. But, when I tried to talk about some of these issues with someone on the "other side," I was accused of hating teachers. So where can I go from there? It's hard to approach anyone like that again.
Captain Howard Hawrey May 16, 2012 at 05:55 PM
Ernestine, Growing up here locally my parents always told me "money doesn't grow on trees". I guess these trees exist in our area. Can you please tell me where I can find them because they are not in my yard? I'm a MP resident but appreciate your position and enjoy your educating posts.
Ernestine Franco May 16, 2012 at 07:51 PM
Thank you Captain Howard. I was also brought up to believe that money doesn't grow on trees.
Charles Gerace May 17, 2012 at 01:15 AM
I'm never trying to convince others to see things my way. I simply encourage people to educate themselves to the specific issue so they can make informed decisions. I'm open to hearing anyone's position on any issue as long as the conversation is respectful and I've found that most people are the same way.
boris becker May 17, 2012 at 01:16 AM
The time you spend on trying to dismantle the RP school district is saddening. The facts you have spewed to the public are not convincing, or eye-opening. The facts that do hold true are that people value a quality school system. People want to live in a sound community where their children, and their neighbors children, have a chance to succeed. With that said, we live in a district where spending per pupil is the lowest in Suffolk County. Do you know what that means? It means that taxpayers are getting a lot for their money, compared to the rest of the region. Teacher pay and benefit packages are not alarming in our town. I'm sure you weren't at last night's board meeting where a student received a scholarship for $100,000, being put towards his acceptance to Harvard. People like yourself do not know what goes into the success of this child. FIrst, it starts at home. Next, it is a product of a quality school system. You need to stop making your financial problems, all of our problem. Your true enemies, besides your own disrespect for your community, are the lawmakers up in Albany. Why don't you do a little more research about what is going on with state funding and lobbying. We all know around town that you will treat our schools like you treat other businesses, as if they owe you something. Well, maybe it is time to enjoy the community you live in, and stop fighting a fight that belongs elsewhere. Attempting to ruin a responsible district is sad, very sad.
Peace May 17, 2012 at 01:20 AM
Well said Boris.
Andrew Cooper May 17, 2012 at 10:04 AM
Thank you Boris!!!
Hello, Newman! May 17, 2012 at 10:30 AM
I agree that the amount spent per student is the true mark of how efficiently a school district operates, not necessarily the tax rate. My four children all went through the Rocky Point school system and got into very good colleges, so they must be doing something right! Funding schools in bedroom communities like Rocky Point is very difficult without adequate state aid.
HerbertC May 17, 2012 at 11:36 AM
And just how is asking teachers to pay a little more for their health insurance going to dismantle the RP school district? The sound community that you want is what we all want but as long as our young people can't live here after they graduate we don't have a sound commuinty.
Wlodek May 17, 2012 at 11:48 PM
What is sad is that businesses and people are leaving Long Island because of high taxes, which are caused primarily by salaries and benefits that are unaffordable anymore. The RP School District was very proud to have renegotiated transportation contract to save money. Why the same was not done with the teachers and administrators. Why does Rocky Point need to assure the superintendent of the private bathroom and the life insurance for life. How does this waste help education? Why the teachers and administrators cannot contribute more to their health benefit plan? Ernestine has patiently and respectfully raised those questions as a community member. We thank her for that.
boris becker May 18, 2012 at 12:53 AM
Herbert and Wlodek, The fact is that for folks like you, teachers will never give enough. You will always vote no. You will take for granted all that taxes do for you and you will never be happy with paying any amount. At the same time, you will want your street to be the cleanest, your neighborhood to be the safest, and your children to receive the perfect education. I could write for days about why your points lack credibility, but it will do no good. The only thing neighbors like me can hope for is that everyone else doesn't think so selfishly, Maybe you should check in with Newsday, you must be some of their biggest fans.
Phillip May 18, 2012 at 11:06 AM
Boris, you've peaked my interest. Just what have teachers given up?
Ernestine Franco May 18, 2012 at 11:14 AM
Thank you, Wlodek. The other sad thing is that your questions still need to be answered before the kids ae put first.
AnotherLocalMom May 18, 2012 at 11:21 AM
Wlodek, you're absolutely right. I've been thankful of Mrs. Franco's comments on the blog and at Board meetings. She has always been nothing but respectful and yet have seen her being heckled. At one Board meeting, when asking why the union president is being paid with taxpayer dollars, the union president jumped up and started to yell at her. Regardless of what your feelings are about these issues, these are legimitimate questions that need to be asked. We need people like her who are not afraid to speak up and yet remain civil.
Alicia Palifka May 22, 2012 at 01:39 PM
I second what HerbertC and Wlodek has said..@"Boris Becker"..your approach is in need for alitlle softening.Suggesting anyone wants to dismantle the system is severely over the top.What we want is fiscal responsibility in a time where we are losing the battle of what we can all afford.The economy has been destoyed.People are barely making it,. ALL of our health Care costs have gone up as we now have to pay for "all" .Gas, food, oil, electric..you name it ..it went up! Families here are trying to survive and we want FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY.


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