Possible new logos for the Sewanhaka High School mascot, which...

Possible new logos for the Sewanhaka High School mascot, which is changing to Ravens from Indians to comply with a state mandate by June 2025. Credit: Sewanhaka School District

Time to rethink how to do school budgets

As we assess another nearly unanimous approval of Long Island school district budgets, where most districts saw only a small fraction of registered voters showing up at the polls, several with upward of 70% approval rate, it is high time to reconsider this process “Schools facing funding risks,” News, May 29].

The public school per-pupil expenditure continues to lead the nation. How significantly better are results compared to other areas of the country that spend, on average, less than half of what we spend per pupil?

This state leads the nation in per-pupil spending yet finishes between eighth and 30th when various educational outcome measurements are used for comparative purposes. Clearly, more money is not the answer.

Our State Legislature should break the monopoly of public school education with genuine school choice legislation. While we wait to join half of Europe and the 29 states in our country with genuine school choice programs, the Legislature should regulate the annual budget of a school district whereby a quorum of at least 20% of its voters would need to show up at the polls or its budget should be limited to the prior year’s budget.

— Bruce Bennett, Centereach

Keep seniors on LI by freezing taxes

I have addressed this issue with politicians for the past two or three years [“Freeze school taxes for seniors at age 70,” Letters, May 26]. This is not new to Albany. In 2011, then-Assemb. Steven Englebright and State Sen. Kenneth LaValle sponsored bills to freeze the property tax rate for people over 70 who meet the eligibility requirements for the enhanced STAR exemption.

Rising school taxes wouldn’t lift their property taxes. The bills didn’t go far. Both sides, Republicans and Democrats, have been avoiding this for years. They don’t want to touch it with a 10-foot pole.

I’ve brought this up to several politicians, and they walk away. This is something that has to be addressed if the government wants to keep seniors living on Long Island. It has to help them somehow. You can’t cut school taxes, but you can freeze them for seniors.

— Robert Guastella, Williston

It’s a waste of time and space publishing school budget results. If a district gets a failing vote, it will get voted on again until it passes.

By the way, I’m a 91-year-old Navy veteran. Why am I still paying a school tax?

— Jack Taylor, West Hempstead

Even though I haven’t had school-age children in some time, I don’t mind paying my share of taxes supporting some of the finest public schools in our country.

I prefer to live in an educated society and, hey, you get what you pay for.

— Doug Otto, Massapequa

Sewanhaka sadly says goodbye to its mascot

It is a sad day for the nearly 100-year-old Sewanhaka Central school district [“Sewanhaka High changes its mascot,” Long Island, May 30]. Sewanhaka High School will remove its decades-old Indians mascot and name from all of its property and equipment. Sewanhacky was one of the names for Long Island before European colonization.

The Sewanhaka Indians will be no longer. The Ravens? That’s just fine, but the tradition and homage paid to its Native American background cannot be replaced by a name which has no ties to the community or its rich history.

Shall we now change the name of the high school, district and the surrounding community? After all, the name Sewanhaka memorializes the rich Native American background of the community. It’s not an insult but a tribute. When will this end?

— Michael Limmer, Wantagh

So Sewanhaka High School, which obviously is an indigenous name, has to change its mascot. Is there something off with the new state mandate?

— Saul Rothenberg, Rochdale Village, Queens

Not only am I disappointed, but I imagine most Sewanhaka alumni everywhere are, too, concerning the rebranding of our school from Indians to Ravens. The school was held hostage by the state, so it had to be done.

The district is stuck with a $300,000 bill after a $200,000 grant to erase Indians from the campus. If a new name was inevitable, it might as well just have gone with Americans. That would have included all Long Islanders — past, present and future.

Please don’t try to appease us with the relationship between the raven and Native Americans. The only relationship the raven has to Sewanhaka is that we are the Indians “nevermore.”

— Mark Piotrowski, Wading River

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