School news has always been a big read for those logging on to Smithtown Patch, but one story in particular posted a week ago seemed to hit harder than others.
On April 6 we posted a story concerning the upcoming proposed school budget and how teachers and members of the staff are set to be cut. Since we posted we've had 80 comments posted and we've received countless emails about the budget and the story.
Here are some of the comments we received on the site. If you'd like to continue the discussion here please leave your thoughts in the comments section.
"Help me understand this- we are going clsing an entire elementary school, we have declining enrollment, we are increasing class sizes and reducing/eliminating many other proframs and we STILL have a budget increase of 1.63%? At what point will we address the fundamental issues that affecting us? What good is having wonderful, if not overpaid teachers and adminsitrators, if all the other benefits of a well rounded education have been eliminamted? Or there are no students left in the district because everyone has moved out of town due to the unsustainable tax burden? Will theunion still get theri way by having the same number of teachers in empty classrooms?"
"WHERE OH WHERE ARE THE ADMINISTRATIVE CUTS? In addition to the Principal & AP (due to school closing & redistricting) surely at least a third of that $1.5 million could be plugged with some cuts to central administration."
"Everyone needs to also understand according to Ms. Niles at Weds. meeting we will have an Adjusted Unresricted Fund Balance of 6.3 million dollars. The Unrestricted FB is the old Unreserved Unappropriated $. Translation= the money they didn't spend out of a $212,361,284.00 11/12 budget. So my question is why our taxes are going up at all? Even if they used $3,465,311.00 to continue increasing the budget for next year-they could have used part of that 6.3 million so we had no increase. Oops guess they still don't want to admit there was no reason for an increase especially since they have made ALL of the reductions for next year. FYI the document that shows all of the reserve fund data is required to be into the NYSED by 4/21/12. Administrator disclosure data due to NYSED by 5/9/12. Pay attention folks."
"If we are taking things out of the budget.....like services for the children and teachers then why is the new superintendent being given a huge salary, extra vacation days, set salary increases and a $600 a month car allowance? How do we have the money for that when the district is in such bad shape? Does give me much faith in the new guy if he needs all these extras that the current superintendent does NOT have on top of the higher salary to make him want to work here. At such a loss for words.......We will increase class size and drop programs to cut teachers therefore not service the kids but entice a new superintendent with money this district does not have in these economic times. Such poor choice!"
I think that the 2% tax cap is the real issue. It was put into place to cripple school districts and teachers. A district can not run within a 2% tax cap. I agree that Sagasse asks questions, but the questions he asks he already knows the answers too. He sounds ridiculous when he speaks and it's hard to take him seriously. what kind of increases are we talking about, Smithtown has opened a high school, middle school and also an elementary school over the past 10 years. All of that cost money. Maybe we should go back and blame the prior BOE from 10 years ago for closing the schools.. Poor planning!!!
"Congratulations Smithtown! We got screwed again! When all the details of this contract are revealed it will once again prove a losing postion for the students and taxpayers of Smithtown. The district's letter tries to highlight what they believe are savings but the reality is this will once again financially hurt the district in future years. A least we can move forward knowing what the damage will be for the next few years.
The concessions by the district on healthcare alone are ridiculous and step increases should have been decresed with no raises on top of that. Also, I did not see any mention of the teacher review process that is required to be in place by the end of the year. Did Ms McEnroy get her way and convince the district to pass on state aid just so the teachers would not be reviewed? Let's see what the contract says."
"Mr. Heard I am one of the employees who is being cut. I am truly devastated to be losing my job. I do not blame the STA or Rich Forzano. They are only there is protect the membership from people like you. Neither do I blame the administration. It is difficult enough running a district the size of Smithtown, and it doesn't make it any easier with a bunch of Sunday afternoon quarterbacks. I do however blame the past school board! With the likes of Bob Rossi, Neil Carlin, and Joe Saggese who were financially irresponsible when they demanded a 0% budget increase for three straight years. What in God's name were they thinking? How do you run a school district without planning ahead. I do believe that if the board had raised the budget by a mere 1% each of those years, I would still have a job, and so would my colleagues, and the children of Smithtown would not be in large classrooms. Now we are stuck with a 2% tax cap. You think this year's cut are bad...you haven't seen anything yet!"