Board of Ed Sets New Vote on Bus Controversy

Community outrage sparks board to set a Sept. 19 re-vote on its plan to limit bus service.

After more than two months of public outcries over bus cuts, the Smithtown Central School District Board of Education voted Tuesday night to give the public a chance to overturn a controversial transportation referendum.

The new vote, set for Sept. 19, was approved by President Gladys Waldron and Vice President Scott Martella, , as well as Theresa Knox, Grace Plourde and Joanne McEnroy.

Board members Louis Liguori and Joseph Saggese were the only two board members to oppose the re-vote.

Martella said although the board has been deliberating over a new public vote following the fallout from the May 17 vote, the board opted to wait until to make the decision.

“It was the wish of the departing members that we do not make a decision until they were on board,” he said after the meeting.

The vote picked up the support of Superintendent Edward Ehmann, who said concerns over the language of the original referendum should be enough to call a new vote.

“It was important for the democratic process to take place and that if the issue is that the resolution in May was not clearly defined and people were not making informed votes we’ll do it again,” he said.

Addressing the original referendum language and advertisement, Martella said the district will make it clear what the public will be voting on.

“The language of this is going to be prominently displayed on our website, it’s going to be included in our [Smithtown] Digest, hopefully all the news outlets circulate the language, so there is no question what a ‘yes’ vote means and what a ‘no’ vote means,” he said.

Prior to the vote, parent uproar hit new heights when the district announced the findings of the transportation referendum analysis.

The analysis, conducted by James Rhodes, inspector of the Suffolk County Police Department Fourth Precinct, and Mitch Crowley, director of the Town of Smithtown Traffic Safety Department, as well as members of the school district’s transportation, facilities and security departments, concluded that 562 elementary school students would be impacted by the bus cuts, as well as 535 students in the middle schools and 457 students in the high schools in the 2011-12 school year.

Chris July 20, 2011 at 08:54 PM
The vote is September 19th? After school starts? Who gets buses the first day of school??
Smithtown Mom of 3 July 20, 2011 at 10:27 PM
The current (new) guidelines - 1/2 mile for elem. students and 1 1/2 miles for middle and high school students- will be in place until after the vote on Sept. 19th. The district will be sending home notices in late July to students who previously had bussing and have lost it as a result of the referendum. Students who will still have bussing will find out in late August when their school classroom assigments and bus assignments are mailed out.
Michele July 21, 2011 at 01:16 AM
This re-vote is an embarrassment to our community. We are spending money we don't have because people didn't bother to take the time to understand the referendum. As parents/tax payers you should NEVER go to a voting booth and not completely understand what it is you are voting for.
Chris July 21, 2011 at 01:33 AM
As superintendent, it was Mr. Ehmann's job to get the word out. Instead, he deliberately gave as little information as possible to select audiences, such as PTA. The new board should direct him to present all of the facts to all residents. The phone numbers of all residents should be added to the automated phone system.
Meg July 21, 2011 at 01:42 AM
Yes, Chris. Catholic School parents pay taxes and all we get are books and buses. We deserve automated phone calls and all the materials and info that public school parents get, especially about issues that directly mpact our kids. There also needs to be better communication between the district and the parochial and private schools Smithtown kids attend.
Ruth July 21, 2011 at 12:05 PM
If political parties & political candidates can send automated phone calls to all their constituents, so can the SCSD. VP Scott Martella knows how it's done. He & the rest of the board ought to insist that the supt. & his tech administrator figure out how o it right away. Taxpayers without kids in the schools get nothing from the district, not even a calendar anymore. The least they can get is the same phone call about a public meeting or vote that public school parents get from Mr. Ehmann.
stjamesBri July 21, 2011 at 05:02 PM
Wake up Cathy, you posted your insulting comments on a different thread. Check out the question of the day section, I just read them there. Boy, not only are you insinuating that someone has it out for you, but you feel your opinions are the truths. You should get out more often. Wake up sweetie!!!
Cathy July 21, 2011 at 05:21 PM
Wow you are a pompous one, I bet you know it all. I am sorry buddy that you do not like my comments but that is how I see it.
Cathy July 21, 2011 at 05:22 PM
Sweetie, how condesending
stjamesBri July 21, 2011 at 05:41 PM
Exactly, that's how you see it. Let's make that more clear. And how about an apology to the author/editor of this site? Your insinuation that they aren't all in on the free speech thing is as insulting as it comes to someone in the news industry.
Cathy July 21, 2011 at 05:52 PM
Now that I know you are a cop I understand all your responses.
MJH July 31, 2011 at 02:15 PM
I am asking everyone to ignore any posts from "Cathy". Please do not resond to comments from "Cathy". This person is trolling and keeping the conversation off topic. We can all get so much more insight from everyone if we can all refrain from engaging with him/her. I know it gets frustrating when someone engages in those behaviors, but if you respond you are only giving the "negative attention" this person is looking for. For everyone else, thanks for the input.
Cathy July 31, 2011 at 11:05 PM
Hi mjh, This great country of ours has been built on free speech. I only responded to others commenting. Getting back on target though, you can rest assured I will be at the revote and I will encourage all my friends and family to also.
MJH August 07, 2011 at 03:10 AM
What is the reason everyone does not get the automated phone calls? Has anyone from the BoE etc. ever addressed why the automated phone calls are not utilized with private school parents or taxpayers w/o children?


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