Recent articles about audits of school districts paint a distorted picture of school financial practices ["School districts criticized for cash surpluses," News, Oct. 14].

School districts budget conservatively to ensure there are no disruptions to education programs during the year due to emergencies. These might include storms, bus accidents, new students with severe disabilities who require costly services, or major employers leaving town and decreasing the tax base.

This year, some districts have had to deal with unanticipated enrollment increases because of an influx of unaccompanied immigrant children. School districts do not want to be forced to institute cuts midyear, which would occur if they had insufficient funds to cover these unanticipated expenses or loss in revenue.

Audits of school districts suffer from the "Goldilocks syndrome." Schools are chastised for either having not enough in reserves or for having too much. The right amount depends on the district and its unique circumstances, and ultimately that's the responsibility of school boards to determine, not someone in Albany.

School districts have restrictions on the amount of funds they can set aside in reserves, and we also receive the most scrutiny and public involvement in the budget process compared with other local governments.

Michael J. Borges

Robert J. Reidy


Editor's note: The writers are the executive directors, respectively, of the New York State Association of School Business Officials and the New York State Council of Superintendents.

Asharoken, share beach to get funds

Let me get this straight: The Village of Asharoken wants the state Department of Environmental Conservation -- meaning the taxpayers -- to pay to repair dunes damaged by superstorm Sandy ["Access issues," News, Nov. 5].

In exchange, the village graciously proposed to allow three public access points of its choosing. The DEC rejected the proposal, demanding five public accesses, one every half mile.

The village has a problem with that proposal, and that is just too bad.

Here's an idea for the village and residents who oppose the DEC proposal: Fix your own dunes at your own expense. Then you can choose to have no public access at all.

Giampaolo Fallai, Wading River

Editor's note: The writer is the president of the Hartwood Civic Assiciation of Wading River.

Toxic materials not right for landfill

The Department of Environmental Conservation held a hearing at Suffolk County Community College to address the removal of toxic material from Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood and the shipment of that material to the Hauppauge landfill ["Residents concerned by Islip park cleanup plan," News, Oct. 10].

The board of directors of the Hamlet at Windwatch is greatly dismayed that the trustees of the Hauppauge school board didn't attend. This was a meeting that directly concerned the students, staff and residents, including ours.

With a day care center located in the Whippoorwill School building, and three district schools within a two-mile radius of the landfill, it is unconscionable that the Hauppauge school board didn't object to the relocation of toxic material so close to its schools.

Stuart Rachlin, Hauppauge

Editor's note: The writer is a member of the board of the Hamlet at Windwatch Homeowners Association.

Coastal homes are doomed

I'd like to offer coastal inhabitants an unfortunate reminder ["Infrastructure: Bid to protect LI," News, Oct. 29].

For 12,000 years, the shoreline has been drowning, and all the beach-barrier island environments still remain because, through storms, they continue to migrate landward.

As in the 1960s, storms periodically appear, and all attempts at stabilization or "recovery" have been temporary. Yet, the attempts continue via the Federal Emergency Management Agency and NY Rising.

It's good to see some families accepting fair market-plus value for their land and leaving. Most people have seen, but refuse to accept, reality.

Coastal sustainability is not stabilization, especially with the emphasis on global warming, accentuated sea-level rise and extreme weather. Elevating homes could prevent storms from reaching the living area, but the wave surge could still undermine the columnar pilings beneath the home, leading to tilting and collapse.

Sea walls also provide stabilization, but wherever a wall ends, the storm surge flanks it, crosses the narrow width of land or enters the bay, circulates for nearly an hour, and must then flow back out. Water that can't retreat where it entered is trapped.

People should accept any reasonable offer that returns their land to a county or state park. This should become a national policy, but when?

Fred Wolff, Ridge

Editor's note: The writer is a professor emeritus of the Department of Geology, Environment and Sustainability at Hofstra University.


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