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Letters: School vote complaints

Youngsters, student athletes and parents march with signs

Youngsters, student athletes and parents march with signs in front of Dutch Broadway Elementary School in support of the Elmont district's budget, which is up for a revote. (June 16, 2012) Photo Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin/Kevin P Coughlin

The school budget vote has come and gone in Elmont with huge support not only for the budget but an $86.6-million debt for 20 years to repair Sewanhaka school district buildings ["How Nassau districts voted," News, May 22].

The turnout in Elmont was less than 2,400. I wonder, how many yes voters work for the school district? How many actually pay property taxes for a legal one- or two-family home? How many take the time to really understand the tax impact and take the time to attend a board meetings?

School spending on Long Island was growing at 6 to 8 percent for years before the property tax cap went into effect. Why were our school buildings not kept up? Now some say we can't look back, but I say we have a right to know all the facts. It's our money, and unfortunately many people have left Long Island. Homeowners and businesses struggle to pay for mistakes.

Someone had better come up with a different plan. We can't keep gambling our future away based on 2,400 people voting on these budgets.

Patrick Nicolosi, Elmont

Editor's note: The writer is the president of the Elmont East End Civic Association.

The story about the proposed spending and tax hikes of Long Island's school districts failed to present information on the driving factor behind these increases -- the salaries and benefits of teachers and school administrators ["Districts keeping levies low," News, May 10].

In the Sewanhaka district, and I suspect in many others, salaries and benefits have more than doubled in the past 12 years.

In Sewanhaka, teaching salaries and employee benefits amounted to $56.9 million in the 2002-03 school year, while $128.2 million is proposed for 2014-15. In this period, student enrollment has dropped 2.5 percent.

In the Manhasset district, the starting salary for a teacher with a master's degree is $74,115. With annual step and contract increases, plus additional education credits, this teacher's salary could rise to $92,000 in five years. Because teachers work fewer than 10 months a year, while the average business sector employee has a 28 percent longer work year, that salary would be equivalent to $118,000 in the business world.

School officials should include data on salaries and benefits in their newsletters -- there is not even the briefest mention of that now in my district -- instead of keeping taxpayers in the dark as if they were mushrooms.

George Rand, Franklin Square

I can understand the frustration of homeowners with the school taxes that are imposed on them. In almost all cases, the taxes are higher every year.

What bothers me is that even if half the voters approve exceeding the property tax cap, their district's budget would fail because a 60 percent majority is needed. Although homeowners dutifully pay their taxes, their votes in favor are not counted as equal to those who vote against the budget. Since when did the vote of one citizen count for less than that of another citizen?

Bridgehampton's school budget passed 134 to 113, but failed because of the 60 percent supermajority needed ["How Suffolk districts voted," News, May 22].

Equal but different has no place in a democracy.

Anthony Mignone, Massapequa Park