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Board of Ed Rejects Petitions For Bus Referendum Re-Vote

But Superintendent Edward Ehmann said with two new board members and community outcries, the end of the issue isn't near.

The Board of Education on Monday voted to reject community petitions to hold a new vote on a controversial transportation referendum limiting bus service in the district.

Since the , increasing the distances for children to get bus service to school, there has been community outcries over the measure, specifically at the a  and board meetings. Many cite the confusing wording of the referendum, and the safety risks children walking in high-traffic areas with no sidewalks, as reason for a re-vote.

At the elementary level the distance will be one-half mile limit, secondary schools will have a one-and-a-half mile limit, and private and parochial schools will have a 15-mile limit.

But four board members – current President Robert Rossi, Vice President Joseph Saggese, Theresa Knox and Louis Liguori – voted to reject the petitions; board members Scott Martella and Gladys Waldron voted to accept the petitions; Neil Carlin abstained.

Superintendent Edward Ehmann said the issue isn't over yet.

“I do not think that it’s put to rest,” he said. “I think that the community is still going to request that people have a second chance to voice their opinion on this matter, so that remains to be seen."

While the board voted to reject the petitions for a re-vote, Ehmann said with the introduction of two new board members – and the dynamic of the board could change and the potential for a new referendum or views on the transportation issue is a possibility.

Plourde and McEnroy will first take their seats on the board at the July 12 board meeting.

The superintendent also said that a new referendum could be introduced by the board.

“The Board of Ed rejecting this group of petitions doesn’t preclude them from doing a motion on their own to establish another referendum,” he said. “Now it cannot be the same referendum, the language has to be different.”

Catholic Mom June 23, 2011 at 01:07 PM
I hope and pray that the new board members will protect the safety of the children in Smithtown and allow the re-vote. Time is of the essence since there need to be 60 days public notice, but if they are diligent and insist it be discussed immediately - the children will remain safe on the school bus..... I pray Smithtown will not be mourning the injury or death of a child...because of money. Very simply, that all it comes down to.....
Carla June 23, 2011 at 02:27 PM
This is so typical of Teflon Ehmann. The bus referendum was HIS idea but he thinks everyone forgot that, which they probably did. Now he's putting the onus on the unpaid board members. I suppose everyone also forgot about the $13.5 million mistake, which legislation was supposed to rectify. Was a bill passed? Did Gov. Cuomo sign it? I imagine everyone also forgot about the independent forensic audit to investigate these errors. What happened to the report? Now that it's summer, the Smithtown community will go on vacation, and nothing will stick to Ehmann. You're right Lisa. But if there is an accident, Teflon Ehmann won't take the blame either. He'll blame the BOE. There is one more BOE meeting before July, on June 28. There are also meetings in the summer. The community should keep up the pressure.
Chris June 23, 2011 at 02:34 PM
Ehmann is a lame duck. He's toast. Our hope is with the new board to hire a decent, honest, and smart superintendent, reverse the bus referendum, and get to the bottom of the building aid fiasco. The public has a right to know!
Just A Mom June 23, 2011 at 02:41 PM
Mr. Ehmann told the PTA he was recommending the bus referendum to the BOE. Now he takes no responsibility. He also told the PTA (after it was reported in the press) about the building aid fiasco and that the legislature would fix it. Did they? He said he was not responsible, but did we ever get the results of the independent investigation? The sooner we get a new superintendent, the better it will be for everyone.
One Opinion June 23, 2011 at 02:54 PM
Four board members voted to reject petions for a new transportaion referendum. They did not explain their positions to the public. They just voted no. If these petitions had been accept then a new vote would be in process and the BOE could move on to other issues. It is the Superintendants job to put out cost saving proposals. Times are tough and will be getting much more difficult. The money for future obligations must be found. This Superintendant has done some things that could have been handled better, no doubt. However, blame your neighbors for not voting or blame them not for voting correctly, blame the BOE for not allowing for a new vote. Or maybe, the resulst were accurate and the outcome will be same in a new vote.
One Opinion June 23, 2011 at 03:01 PM
Bill is being signed today: http://www.newsday.com/long-island/education/smithtown-district-state-aid-bill-passed-1.2977545
Lisa June 23, 2011 at 03:14 PM
Even if the governor signs the bill, the community still deserves the truth about how, why and when this happened.
Rick June 23, 2011 at 03:33 PM
The supt's cost savings proposals are supposed to be thoroughly researched and documented before he recommends them to the BoE. The transportation referendum was not. He and his administrative staff should have looked into a host of issues, including safety, lack of sidewalks, etc. before he ever recommended the proposition to the board. It's not the BoE's job to do the research; Ehmann and his staff are paid to do it. It wasn't done, and shame on him for that. Certainly "money for future obligations included $ 700,000 a year for 15 years for lost building aid. If. Gov. Cuomo actually signs the bill then there's no longer a reason to jeopardize the children. Maybe the new BoE will see it that way. But make no mistake about it. Ehmann consistently shoots from the hip rather than doing his homework. This is a problem for the board, community, students and staff of Smithtown. Hopefully, the new BoE will move quickly to hire a new superintendent.
Troy Rosasco June 23, 2011 at 10:43 PM
Gladys Waldron's comments in Newsday were very encouraging regarding the possibility of a new vote. She gets it. I think once the two new Board members come on board, their will be a clear majority for the new vote. This should not be about money when kids lives are at stake. The new Board majority understands this. Thank Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick for securing the $3 million in "bailout" funds for the District, but we still have to find out what happened so it does not happen again. If the Governor signs the "bailout" bill, then their is no monetary argument not to have a new busing vote ASAP.
Catholic Mom June 23, 2011 at 11:22 PM
ABSOLUTELY!!!!! So does Scott, thank goodness. I hope that the new board memebers see these post and act promptly....let not one child be endangered.
Ellie C. June 24, 2011 at 01:09 AM
It was Terry Knox's vote that surprised me.
Catholic Mom June 24, 2011 at 01:29 AM
Me too, she was so worried about the decrease number of track coaches, but k-5 walking 1/2 mile to school is acceptable??
MotherHubbard June 24, 2011 at 01:41 AM
The discussion about busing preceded the state aid debacle by months. One was not the cause of the other. When is it appropriate to set aside a legitimate, democratic election when we don't like the outcome? There's a few I'd like to re-visit.
Smithtown Mom of 3 June 24, 2011 at 01:40 PM
Quoted in Newsday on June 16th, Theresa Knox said "she had voted against reducing busing and would not rule out a second vote." Why, then, did she vote to DENY the petitions??? Shouldn't these board members, who WE as a community elect to the board, have to explain/support their decisions in a public forum???? Shameful and cowardly on the part of Knox and ESPECIALLY Carlin for abstaining.
stjamesBri June 24, 2011 at 04:06 PM
No MotherHubbard, to US the discussion about busing preceded the state aid mistake. To our BoE and our superintendent the discussions were one in the same. They were the ones covering up the state aid mistake for months until it finally came out. Don't you recall Ehmann's directive to "keep this quiet otherwise we will have a public relations nightmare"? The cost saving on busing were a response to the lost funds from the state, plain and simple. We just found out about them at different times. And to term this referendum legitimate it a stretch. Nothing was sent out about it, no documentation, they didn't even research its impacts. Ehmann gave the PTAs false information. The wording was written by a lawyer who is now blaming "state legalese" for his inability to write a clear and concise description. Or was that done intentionally?? Everything sure points to that. So your snarky remark about setting aside a "legitimate" election when we don't like the outcome couldn't be more wrong. I would have thought that someone with the name "MotherHubbard" would care about the safety of children not about money, but I guess not.
MotherHubbard June 24, 2011 at 04:37 PM
Can you tell me in what forum Ehmann's gave the directive to keep this quiet otherwise we will have a public relations nightmare?" The initial discussions regarding reducing busing go back to 2009. When did the district learn of the state aid mess? Sorry you found my comment snarky.
stjamesBri June 24, 2011 at 06:47 PM
As quoted by a source of the Smithtown News he mentioned it during a meeting with his admin staff and the districts principles. And I agree, the entire busing discussion does go back several years, however, the deisre to pass it by the BoE and the administration was ramped up this year like never before. Just look how the entire thing was handled from beginning to the end (the vote). Sneaky quiet and incompetence. Safety of the kids to recoup lost state aid because someone in the admin office can't read a calendar.
Carla June 27, 2011 at 08:43 PM
I'm trying to find out if Gov. Cuomo signed the milti-million bailout bill for the administrative errors of Smithtown Schools? If yes, we don't need to save the $ for busing. If not, why not? I also haven't heard anything about the independent investigation. Tuesday, June 28 at 8 p.m. is the last BOE meeting of the school year. We need to come and demand answers.
Catholic Mom July 08, 2011 at 12:42 PM
NOTE: They changed the date of the BoE meeting to 7/13. Check district website. Hard to hit a moving target..

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