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Saturday, February 28, 2015
Letter to the Editor
Tax cap will only hurt schools

To the Editor:

The Herald’s thoughtful editorial, “No easy answers in high school district” (Feb. 28-March 6), was spot on. The piece correctly notes the Central High School District’s dilemma of being caught in the middle between its obligation to provide the community with an excellent school system while trying to deal with the state’s attempts to solve its own fiscal problems. At a time when the state continues to offer insufficient school aid and continues to pass the cost of its unfunded mandates on to districts, it has now imposed a 2 percent tax cap which severely limits a district’s ability to raise minimally needed revenue.

Many who initially ballyhooed this new law as a great way to hold the line on property taxes, if they are not now beginning to realize its consequences, soon will. Inevitably, this egregious tax cap can lead only to a steady erosion of academic opportunities for students, a layoff of more teachers translating into unmanageable class sizes, further cutbacks in extra-curricular programs, an elimination of school services to community residents and the slow but sure deterioration of school facilities.

Moreover, this new legislation has the potential to lead to a decline in property values in some communities. For example, while the law allows a district to try to exceed the cap, to do so requires a 60 percent voter approval. Since it is difficult enough to get a normal majority, getting 60 percent approval in many districts is remote. Thus, some parents and prospective home buyers may end up choosing to move to a community that can.

While we sympathize with those who are to be inconvenienced by the district’s decision to opt for the less costly substitution of MTA passes instead of the more expensive yellow bus transportation, their ire should be directed at Governor Cuomo and State Senate leader Dean Skelos, the prime movers behind the tax cap on school budgets.

Perhaps there are some who, unhappy with a proposed bare bones budget that eliminates a component they have heretofore counted on, believe a vote against the budget will “show the district” how angry they are. Unfortunately, doing so will only exacerbate the problem by guaranteeing additional cutbacks under austerity, and a likely expansion of MTA passes to additional non-public school students who otherwise would have been transported by yellow buses.

Instead, what is needed is to fight harder for additional state aid and for some reasonable amelioration of the mad cap tax cap.

Richard E. Herrmann
President
Valley Stream Teachers’ Association

Comments

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PaulaD

Mr. Herrmann misunderstands completely. Parents of private school students are not worry about being 'inconvenieced' if our children need to use metrocards and public transportation. We are extremely worried about the safety of our children, some expected to take public buses for over 30 stops and then transferring in neighborhods that are not the safest, and on streets that are very busy with no crossing guards. Whatever the reason for the budget woes (and we are all well aware of the cut in state aid and the tax cap), throwing the safety and well-being of private school students out the window is NOT the answer. Our school board should be ashamed of themselves for thinking this is a viable solution to transport children. And Mr. Herrmann should be ashamed of himslef for thinking that parents are merely worried about being 'inconvenienced.' ALL of our children deserve a safe, reliable way to get to school and yellow school buses are the right answer for private school students.

Thursday, March 14, 2013 | Report this
victoriafuentes

Mr. Hermann's feigned sympathy for "those who are to be inconvenienced " by the districts proposal to issue metrocards to 12 and 13 year old children is insensitive and so transparent. As President of the Valley Stream Teachers' Association he should support the safety of ALL VS children. As the parent of one of "those who are to be inconvenienced" and TAXPAYER of Valley Stream, I can assure Mr. Herrmann that SAFETY is the issue. In response to his comment that our "ire" should be directed towards Governor Cuomo & Senator Skelos, let me remind Mr. Herrmann that school bureaucracy is the underlying issue. The fact is that we can no longer sustain the salaries and benefits that account for approximately 75% of our school budgets, including superintendent salaries that are higher than the Governor of New York STATE. Mr. Herrmann, along with all the other educrats, should stop trying to deflect from the real issue, which is out of control spending, and the VSCHS school board must stop acquiesing to union demands while holding our children hostage for basic services! Parents, lets wake up and let them know that we see through their rhetoric!

Thursday, March 21, 2013 | Report this
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