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Readers React: Locals Sound Off on Teacher, Staff Cuts

The proposed school budget has ruffled the feathers of Smithtown Patch readers.

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!"

townwatcher April 14, 2012 at 10:35 PM
Sticks- I see your point, but the answer is that your daughter deserves MORE...not that everyone else has less. She SHOULD have a pension if she sticks with that company for her career....not just a 401k. She SHOULD be paid for overtime if she works it. This should not be a race to the bottom . She should also have good job security and not be fired on a whim. UNIONS have made this possible for some...the answer is for more professions to follow the model....not try to tear down those who do have a secure job and pension just because they don't have it. Somehow the business world has turned us against each-other! We should all be working to secure these benefits!
LI Snowbird April 14, 2012 at 10:36 PM
A person I know is 6 years out of college and is a CPA. He makes 120,000 a year. He contributes to his 401K. He pays 20% of his health insurance and has 6 weeks vaction. He also has 10 personal days and 15 sick days a year. If they are not used, he can convert half to cash each year. Sounds pretty comparable to me.
LI Snowbird April 14, 2012 at 10:37 PM
I am not saying that teachers are underpaid, but I don't think they are overpaid either for what they do. I think that everyone should be paid a fair wage.
+irish+ April 14, 2012 at 10:51 PM
A search of two database sites show there are about 300 Smithtown School District employees earning over $100,000. On one hand, you have to wonder just how many of those are administrators. On the other, that so-called "average" (cited by a site that does not list actual salaries) is skewed lower by new hires and substitute teachers, who earn far less money.
scsddad April 15, 2012 at 01:13 AM
HeyJoe It was the liberal BOE that hired the new superintendent at that salary and with those benefits
Argile April 15, 2012 at 01:33 AM
That's pretty sad they would have to move so their kids could get a "quality" education. But that's what unions have driven into people's heads today. That you have to PAY out the a$$ for your kids to get a good education. I bought my house in Smithtown back in the 90's for $177k and taxes were $5000. The education my kid got was pretty damn good. Hmmm, as a matter of fact the education that the kids back in the 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's was pretty good too. AMAZING! How did this country evolve with such dirt cheap taxes. And there wasn't a shortage of teachers either!
Argile April 15, 2012 at 01:39 AM
When you raise wages where do you think all this money comes from? The Obama tree in the back of the White House? Someone has to pay for it. This "entitlement" attitude from unions is what ruined Long Island! Back in the day there was a difference between a unionized job and a private sector job. A union job would have a decent wage while getting very good benefits where as the private sector you would get a great salary but you were on your own for the most part with saving for retirement. Nowadays union monkeys want private sector salaries with great benefits! You can't have it both ways without someone having to pay the price.
scsddad April 15, 2012 at 01:44 AM
LI Snowbird You can't pay a teacher for what they do because you can't pay them on there own merit. You have to give the bad teachers the same raise as the good teachers. You can't even get rid of a bad teacher the STA will fight for them even if the teacher is bad. I know a few years back a teacher at St James el got in trouble for a drinking problem he's been at New York Ave. ever since
Argile April 15, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Why should a company be obligated to provide a pension? You damn well know you're going to get old one day so how about showing some responsibility and accountability for ones self and plan accordingly instead of making it someone else's responsibility? It's the stupid entitlement mentality that is bringing this country down. That, "Other people should pay for me just because I exist" mentality. If this works so well go take a good look over a the European Union and how many countries are in the toilet because their payouts are exceeding their payments. If it's working so well why does the EU keep getting BILLIONS in bailout money from our Federal Reserve?
St James mom April 15, 2012 at 02:41 AM
Teachers should be paid well, good teachers anyway, most wouldn't argue that point. It's the job security (tenure), salary, minimal contribution to health benefits AND guaranteed retirement!! This is not the teachers fault but a greedy, powerful union!! Not all unions are as bad. I know critical care RN's with 14+ yrs experience making $80,000 or less, who can be fired, who pay for benefits and generally have 0-3% raises annually depending on contract. They work very hard and need education for the important jobs they do!
Bob April 15, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Really Henry?! I have never seen you repost something "for people who missed it before.". You normally have a "week in review" type thing, but not something like this. Please don't try and insult our intelligence with a BS response like that. Thank you.
Henry Powderly (Editor) April 15, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Thanks Bob, I guess you missed some of our past roundups. Here are a few examples: http://commack.patch.com/articles/what-our-readers-think-hess-plans-approved http://commack.patch.com/articles/readers-react-proposed-cuts-to-music-programs http://smithtown.patch.com/articles/readers-react-ebo-hill-s-demise-unacceptable http://easthampton.patch.com/articles/what-our-readers-think-illegal-immigration-film http://riverhead.patch.com/articles/what-our-readers-think-altschuler-endorsed-by-independence-party
One Opinion April 15, 2012 at 03:37 PM
@Bob you seem to pop into threads and make comments or accusations against those who post anything in regard to the operations of this school district. Now, you decide to battle the patch itself for highlighting comments that are critical of the district. If I remember correctly you clain to be a labor attorney. Why not enlighten all of us misdirected souls as to how great everything is here. You seem to entertain yourself bashig those who call-out what they see as issues. Please educate us on the good part of the budget and contract. We're waiting.........
Bill April 15, 2012 at 04:38 PM
One Opinion, a couple of readers were upset that the Patch only posted negative comments about the district and the teachers. Henry should have known better, but again as I look back at most of the threads he only posts video clips that are negative. He really needs to be careful because most of the clips that he posts do not have correct information. A perfect example was the man who spoke about the Great Neck contract. He was so wrong, but the patch posted. The admin did a great job correcting him and he even thanked them for clearing it up. Henry you really need to check your video clips for accuracy before posting them for the community to see.
Sticks60 April 15, 2012 at 04:49 PM
As noted my daughter is relocating to NJ because the company recieved tax incentives which will lower their cost of doing business. If a company does not control costs a pay the workers at a rate that matches what they product then they go out of business. They go out of business because you the consumer will by a product based on price and quality from another source. Look at the UAW. They brought bankrupcy to both GM and Chrylser because they could not compete. The unions took to much out of each sale so people like yourself would buy Honda, Toyata or many of the cars that are made here in the US by non union people. If my daughter and all of the other members of the company were paid at the rate the STA have you the consumer would quickly go to another retailer down the street to make you purchases. And it she did not think she was getting a fair shake the she would move on to another job. If you want to make money you should have become a computer related major. Our friends son has worked for 11 years at Micro Soft. On the plus side $150,000 ++ per year. On the down side he has to work a lot of hours to get the programing done. Because his skills product products in demand they can afford it. If they did not pay that kind of money then he would just move to a different company.
HeyJoe April 15, 2012 at 05:00 PM
you are correct townwatcher. people who not being treated fairly by the companies they work for should organize and demand a voice in their workplace and a fair share of the wealth they are producing for that company. just like CEO's who make sure that they have a contract spelling out their work conditions and benefits.instead of tearing everyone else down, they should better their own conditions. the problem with comment sections is right wing nuts call everyone who doesnt agree with their outmoded economic theories names and try to bully them and dominate the discussion. Robkoz your economic theories have never worked. Everytime they are implemented the economy crashes within a few short years.
townwatcher April 15, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Robkoz- A pension is not making it someone else problem. It is benefit that I think should be offered to employees...that is all. 401ks were never intended to replace pensions in this country...only to be a supplement. They shift all risk to worker. Pension plans earn much higher rates of return with much greater safety. You can make the argument that 401ks are cheaper to the company, and they may be, but I would like to check in in 25 years or so when most people are retiring with a tiny sum in their 401ks. It is not going to be pretty and we will all end up paying for it through Medicare or social services anyway! Corporations have duped us into believing they can't provide retirement security for long-term workers anymore. We have all bought it hook line and sinker. Its a real shame.
Argile April 15, 2012 at 07:47 PM
@HeyJoe, since when is being responsible for one's self and planning for your future an "economic theory?"
One Opinion April 16, 2012 at 02:04 AM
@Bob Hope you contact Newsday to let them know how wrong they were on the Great Neck teachers contract as they reported the information that was sited at the BOE meeting. By the way...still waiting for you to highlight the benefits to the district as it pertains to this years budget and recent contract settlement. Since you feel both sides are not presented why not give some counterpoints?
scsddad April 16, 2012 at 07:40 PM
In Mr Ehhman's letter to the community on the districts web site Mr Ehhman said the teachers acted in a extremely professional manner during the 2 years of contract negotiations. Was he talking about when they walk out of a BOE meeting or was he talking about the tee shirts and buttons they were in class when they were teaching
scsddad April 16, 2012 at 08:03 PM
It was also extremely professional by breaking the rules by campaigning for STA's puppet Joanne McEnroy
Harry April 18, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Hey Robkoz many Smithtown teachers live in Smithtown and paid the same taxes. So how are they suppose to afford the cost of living on Long Island and Smithtown? Your statement is an oxymoron.
Jacko April 18, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Ask Spain about what they think about the union's and their power. There unemployment rate is over 24%. When they decided "no one can get fired" was enacted, nobody was thinking about the future of Spain or the younger generation. Gee sounds a little like the STA dont you think? STA needs to give in, pay alittle more for their health benefits before its too late. I know I am paying more.....Both for my health care, my own 401K plan, and of course paying more for the teachers & ADMINISTRATION. The new principle coming in.. what a joke can I get that deal?
Argile April 18, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Unions were a good thing 80 years ago. Now they're nothing but corrupt organizations and lobbyist for their favorite politicians. It's the only reason why career politician Tim Bishop is still in office.
Fred Stewart April 18, 2012 at 04:29 PM
unions are necessary NOW... the rich are getting richer and the poor and middle class are getting wiped out. that's not opinion, that's a data-driven FACT. you can spin it anyway you want, but the countries wealth keeps moving toward the top, because lobbiests and congress have auctioned off any legislation that protects 'we the people'...
townwatcher April 18, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Thanks Fred, it is nice to hear a friendly voice on here. It is interesting that the same things that were said about the Unions since they started in the late 1800s are what is being said today--corrupt, greedy,socialist, un-America--but the industries and professions that have unions have actually created living wages and benefits for thier members. Those where unions have been wiped out or never formed lagged behind. I knew personally that I owe my middle class status in this nation to the fact that my father and grandfather were pround union members. While it may sound appealing to have a survival of the fittest dog-eat-dog world, I will say no thank you. Somehow corporate America has turned us against each -other like haves and have-nots. Don't blink beaucse without uniosn we will all be have nots before you know it.
townwatcher April 18, 2012 at 04:52 PM
sorry for the hastily typed mispellings!
Fred Stewart April 18, 2012 at 05:43 PM
unions built this country... bankers destroyed it.
Argile April 18, 2012 at 08:16 PM
I find it interesting how everyone says the rich keep getting richer. I'd like to know who these "rich" people are. You'd be surprised how these rich people are getting rich. It has a lot to do with people voluntarily giving their money away to the rich. People buying homes they couldn't afford is one great example of how banks get rich. Politicians that you voted for that gave bailouts is another example of how banks get rich. Doesn't have anything to do with unions. Having a family without a pot to piss in is a great way of going straight to the poor house. Can you blame the rich on that? Are they in your house holding a gun to your head telling you to make bad decisions? Oh and if you don't think unions aren't getting rich off of your union dues you need to pull your blinders off. Remember that next time they donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to bribe politicians while they're campaigning.
Argile April 18, 2012 at 08:21 PM
@ Fred, remember that next time you take out a mortgage or a home equity line of credit. As I said before, banks don't hold a gun to your head forcing you to walk into a bank and take out a loan or put money into a savings account. Unions are part to blame as well. Look around at what's going on in NY or just in our own backyard. Smithtown school taxes. Nuff said.

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