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Op-Ed: Lindenhurst, It’s Time for a Reality Check

Daniel Street Civic Association President John Lisi urges residents to attend school board meetings, advocate for more money to Long Island schools and stop making unreasonable demands and negative comments on necessary budget decisions.

I’ve long said folks are entitled to their opinion, but they aren’t entitled to their facts.

This seems to be especially true these days in light of the flurry of negative comments about the Lindenhurst school administration and school board.

Folks are making brash and emotional statements about the students being forsaken, and statements about the perceived impact of the necessary closing of a school.

It seems that these statements are often coming from folks who are conspicuously missing from all of the school board meetings where the issues are discussed for solution, at length. Additionally, these folks offer no solutions.

It’s a natural instinct to want everything for your children, but in these economic times where the funding is ever-diminishing, where are the suggestions about how to fund the “wish list” that folks put forward?

Everybody seems to think that the money just mysteriously appears – well, the fact is, it doesn’t. Every property taxpayer in Lindenhurst is footing the bill. Our school board has to make tough, educated decisions in an effort to fulfill their legal fiduciary responsibility to the property taxpayers and provide the best, well-rounded education that the community can afford to provide.

Our district is now suffering from the bad financial decisions and spending sprees that many previous boards have made through the years. We have added courses, activities and especially contractual concessions (in the good times) that have now buried us in ever mounting debt. Coupled with unwillingness by our teachers union to provide any economic assistance, we are now in dire straits.

It seems that little thought and business sense was applied in the past about how we’d pay for all of this in the years to come. Surprise! The time has now come.

I’ve made it my business to try to attend all of the business, budget and general meetings of the school board because approximately 65 percent of our tax bill is attributed to school taxes, and I want to be part of the process and provide any assistance I can from my experience in the private sector.

Unfortunately these meetings are always attended by only a small handful of the ever-faithful. Despite my efforts, and the efforts of others, to get more community involvement, this community doesn’t participate unless they’re asking for additional funding or for some activity or course to not be considered for removal, or change. Talk about apathy - hardly anyone even comes out to vote!

I’d ask that folks suggest some serious methodology to provide the funding for the things they insist on keeping. The money doesn’t grow on trees. Some programs/activities have to be cut to provide savings until better economic times return - the only thing we must do (and have done so far) is to carefully analyze/consider the cost versus benefit of each program.

One definition of economics is: “The relationship between supply and demand.”

The money these days is really scarce, and yet the demand for services remains high. Common sense should dictate that you cannot have what you cannot pay for.

From the recent census the average household income in Lindenhurst (that means the combined earnings of all older than 18 in the home) is approximately. $73,000.00. This isn’t huge income these days on Long Island considering this usually means a husband and wife working, or mom or dad working two jobs. Many others are getting by on a lot less.

Sure, we might have some folks with really good income who couldn’t care less what their taxes are, but the majority in Lindenhurst consists of young struggling families, retired folks on limited income, single parents and survivor husbands or wives.

We need to put our combined efforts together to survive this economic storm, not only for ourselves, but for our children and grandchildren. Remember that every family forced to move away from here increases the tax burden on those who remain.

I acknowledge I haven’t agreed with the administration and board on every decision throughout the years, but especially at this time, I do applaud their dedication and focus on the situation at hand.

I do sense a heightened appreciation, by the board, of the impact of the school tax has on our residents that, and a revitalized effort to minimize it. I’ve long advocated the students, educators and property taxpayers be given equal consideration and attention by administration and the board, at all times.

It’s time for every Lindenhurst resident to get on board and face reality. Research all of the facts, attend the meetings and rallies, advocate for more money to Long Island schools and stop making unreasonable demands and negative comments on the decisions that have to be made in order for our school district to survive.

 

is the president of the . Lisi's written other opinion pieces for Lindenhurst Patch. Click and to read them, and to read the feedback. In addition, click and to read the latest articles about and see some of the comments that prompted this op-ed.

 

Editor's Note: Don't forget to your thoughts and concerns about this and the with Lindenhurst Patch on the site in the comments section of articles on the topic, on Facebook and Twitter, and by e-mailing barbara.loehr@patch.com with an .

Fed up in lindy April 04, 2012 at 10:11 PM
While you are at home eating dinner most night my wife is grading paper,making phone calls, and revising lesson plans. I agree with renters with children but maybe the Village can help legalize some of these apartments so the homeowner could be taxed correctly. The school board should cut the fat at the administrative level then see what's left.
John Lisi April 05, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Fed up in Lindy-- Please be aware that the Village and the School District make a big effort to identify fraud in the registering of students to the district. Legalizing 2 family homes is always a goal, but be aware that two family home owners do not pay twice the taxes. They only pay a slight bit more in tax, which is based on the increased VALUE of their home and an additional garbage fee. Typically, only a few hundred dollars more per year. With respect to your comment about educators working at night at home-- Educators usually do this then because the school is only open for a short time (typically 8:30 to 3:00) and their free periods usually are not ample to accomplish the chore. Additionally, this chore is built into the salary that is paid ( here in Lindenhurst the average educator makes a salary now approaching $ 90,000 which with benefits, is well over $ 100,000.) Couple that with the fact that the working school year is only 9 months compared to 12 months in the private sector---it seems to be commensurate pay for the work required. With respect to cutting the administrative fat-- all school districts could probably make some cuts. Some more than others. Lindy books are open to the public and they show that our District has only some 31 administrators, whose salary total pales in comparison to the full compliment of educators total. Cutting some positions would have some cost benefit, but will not provide the big solution we need. Yes--these are difficult times.
Richard Burke April 07, 2012 at 03:19 PM
If you think this year is tough, wait till next year, and the year after that. Next year, a non-election year, it is quite probable that State "aid" will not increase at all or only very slightly. This year saw an approximate 4% increase in money from the State; legislators are already discussing only a 2% increase for next year, and even that is not guaranteed. And the year after that will not be able to make up for the shortfall of past years unless the economy improves so much that State income and sales tax revenue increases dramatically - say, at least, 50% - which is highly unlikely. So what cuts will happen then? What happens when all athletics, extra-curricular programs, and electives are cut and further cuts are still needed? What do you do when you've used all your reserves and further cuts are still needed? Since class size is contractual (from contracts so far in the past you cannot even try to place blame) how do you eliminate teaching positions without triggering a contract action to PERB? But salaries are also contractual; how do you pay them if you do not have the money? Sorry, but this Administration and Board are dealing with superficial wounds while missing the massive internal bleeding and the patient will die in the next year or two if they do not take a hard line eventually.
katey April 10, 2012 at 03:37 PM
I am a Lindenhurst clerical employee. My union was the first to take a wage freeze and the only union who took a 2 year wage freeze to help out the district. I am now in my 3rd year without a contract
katey April 10, 2012 at 03:44 PM
I would like to know why, once again, there seems to be cuts across the board academically (teachers, academic programs) but I do not see any cuts this year in athletics. What is the BOE's priority? I remember when Lindenhurst was called the "Home of Good Schools". I do not want it to become the "Home of Good Athletes"

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