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Letter: Find ways to cut public school costs

People turn out to vote on Tuesday, May

People turn out to vote on Tuesday, May 19, 2015, on the school board, budget and issues at the Alverta B. Gray Schultz Middle School in Hempstead. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Newsday’s editorial board is correct in saying schools need to innovate to comply with the tax cap laws [“Let the tax cap spur innovation,” Editorial, Jan. 21]. School consolidation would be sensible, but it’s highly unlikely. This is because of the affinity for local control, neighborhood pride, student access to sports teams and, unfortunately for some, a fear of mixing with different demographics.

Instead of spinning our wheels on the improbable, we could promote schools consolidating their purchasing and service delivery, even while they maintain local control. We at the Center for Cost Effective Government have been encouraging schools to come together, perhaps 10 or 20 at a time, to put out single bids for transportation, cafeteria service, maintenance or security, for example.

Our county governments should facilitate this cooperation. The Long Island Purchasing Consortium, which was formed to do so in 2010, was disbanded by Suffolk County’s administration in 2012. It’s time to revive the consortium and take advantage of economies of scale.

Edward J. Kelly Jr., East Islip

Editor’s note: The writer is a member of the board of the Center for Cost Effective Government, a public advocacy group.


“Holding line on school tax” [News, Jan. 21] was a top-notch story.

I thank Newsday for quoting me, but I wish to explain why I said “wonderful” when asked what I thought about the near-zero increase in the school tax levy for next year.

I’m not a guy who hates children or teachers. I’m a retired accountant. I was envisioning that perhaps this year, my school officials will be forced to take a serious look at every line item in our budget.

As a result, maybe they will finally find some district employees who can be let go and some programs that are no longer necessary or that simply don’t work.

In the past, I was told that every individual on our district payroll was sacrosanct, and so was every program. This rigidity results mostly from a reluctance to battle with employee unions, but it’s also a desire to empire-build.

Rather than control spending, school officials will dig deep into our reserves — which is all taxpayer money, anyway — to bridge the gap. Of course, what they will do when the reserves are used up, no one knows. Operating more cost-efficiently doesn’t seem to be an option.

Joel Katz, Port Washington

Editor’s note: The writer is a member of Citizens for School Management.