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Letter: Wyandanch's school troubles

Reader letters to Newsday for Sunday, July 21, 2019

The Wyandanch school board approved a $69 million

The Wyandanch school board approved a $69 million contingency budget at their Monday night meeting. Photo Credit: Anthony J. Causi/Anthony J. Causi

The claim by the Citizens Budget Commission, a nonpartisan research group, that a Wyandanch school budget that will provide nearly $25,000 for each student is too little borders on the farcical [“Underfunded schools on LI,” News, July 7]. That amount is just above the $24,500 per-pupil average in New York State — the highest in the nation. Among Wyandanch’s problems, a lack of money is not one of them. State audits criticize overspending of the budget and instances of misspending and fiscal negligence.

Even worse, the response of those who have run the district into a fiscal crisis was an attempt to push through a 40 percent tax hike. This move, and the second attempt for a 20 percent hike in June — both defeated by voters — were incredible affronts to taxpayers struggling to stay afloat.

The people of Wyandanch wish for their children to get the best education possible, but everything has its limit. Catholic high schools in our area provide a fine education while charging tuition of $10,950 a year. Certainly Wyandanch can pull off the same with more than twice that amount per student.

Christopher J. Maloney, Wyandanch

After residents voted down a proposed 20 percent tax increase in Wyandanch school taxes, the board of education offered an austerity plan that included the outsourcing of the district’s security services for a proposed saving of $620,000 a year [“Ouster of schools chief urged,” News, June 20].

The Center for Cost Effective Government, an advocacy group, has long called for school districts to combine their purchasing power by pooling and/or privatizing services for security, transportation, buildings and grounds, and cafeteria services. These are easy savings that do not resort to the more political heavy lift of consolidating districts.

The question is: Why does it take a declaration of austerity for any district to pursue a plan that would save so much money? All districts should engage in these measures to ensure that they never have to declare austerity.

Barry Cowen,Wantagh

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

Am I reading this correctly? Tens of thousands of dollars are allocated per student, and the solution is more money? The bloated school districts had their chance. Now it’s time to think outside the box. Consider charter schools, merging districts, performance-based hiring, longer school days and — hold your breath — summer school.

Anthony Bordano, Glendale

In 2007, when I was a consultant acting as interim director of English language arts in the Wyandanch school district, there was a mindset that nothing is permanent, that things change each year, and there was a feeling of frustration on the part of the faculty. This filtered down to the students. I suggested that students needed to come better prepared and that parent workshops could help. As English chairman at Westbury High School from 1997 to 2001, I had worked with a stellar department to accomplish this goal.

Students cannot be taught if they come to class late, don’t pay attention or are disruptive.

I also recommended that the schools reach out to the community, parents, churches and business people for help. It is 2019, and the Wyandanch district continues to sink. Laying off many staff members is only going to further hurt students. They need good adult role models and small class sizes. Perhaps it’s time for the state to carefully oversee what has transpired for too many years in the dysfunctional district. The state has waited too long.

The district has only three schools with about 2,700 students. The students should be subsumed by higher-performing area districts.

Ruben Friedman, Central Islip

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