District facing rising costs

Anti-budget email circulates at North Shore School District


With budget season picking up the pace across Nassau County’s school districts, the North Shore School District has found itself entangled in a web of misinformation propagated by a group known as North Shore Residents for Fiscal Responsibility.

The group, which has sent out emails with misleading information for the past several years to reduce spending in the district and convince residents to vote against the budget, has once again sparked controversy with its latest email campaign.

The email in question, which circulated over the weekend of March 9 to 10, contained false claims regarding an independent budget review that the school board unanimously approved. North Shore Residents for Fiscal Responsibility alleged that the school board and district administration altered the results of an independent study conducted by the school district when the results were posted on the district website.

The group called on the Board of Education to make serious changes to the budget, arguing that the current cost is too much for residents.

“The North Shore BOE needs to finally take a serious look at the district’s spending,” the email read. “With declining enrollment, reductions in state aid and the full elimination of the LIPA PILOT’s on the horizon, the current spending is unsustainable and unreasonable for taxpayers.”

Chris Zublionis, the district superintendent, explained that the report in question was a draft meant for internal review, but that the entire results of the report had been presented unedited to the district and could be viewed online. Zublionis had also sent out an email in response to NS Residents’, pointing out errors in the claims that they had made regarding the district’s costs and financial information.

Zublionis argued that the district is only struggling financially due to the loss of funds from the Long Island Power Authority’s Glenwood Landing Power Plant, which has been an ongoing source of fiscal issues since the deal with LIPA was closed in 2022. Despite this, Zublionis said that the district has worked hard to make sure that funds are not wasted, but in addition to the LIPA problems, Long Island school districts are facing rising costs across the board.

“Because we’re in this hyperinflationary environment, I think this year you’re going to see a lot of districts with higher tax levies than ever before,” Zublionis said. “We cut two and a half million dollars of spending, we found new revenue, and still with doing all that we have a $3.5 million gap, and that’s where the tax levy comes in.”

Dr. Andrea Macari, the school board president, addressed the issue during the March 14 board meeting, condemning the spread of misinformation as a drain on the district’s resources and a threat to community unity. She urged vigilance against false claims and encouraged active participation in the budget process.

“The spread of this type of misinformation, whether intentionally distributed or inadvertently shared, taints the good work of our schools and aims to divide our beautiful and usually united community,” Macari said. “Tactics such as cherry-picking data, using quotes out of context, and posting manipulative visuals make deceptive emails and social media posts might seem compelling at first glance, but misinformation has the potential to destroy these schools, our housing values, and our community’s faith in each other.”

Dave Ludmar, a school board trustee, expressed dismay over the recurring pattern of misinformation.

He added that the group has been actively working to spread misinformation in the community for the last few years. He emphasized the importance of civil discourse and urged residents to critically evaluate the information they receive.

“These schools are the community, and the community is the schools. We are all one,” Ludmar said. “So the decision of how we’re going to go forward is one that should involve everyone, but it has to be based on what the actual choices are.”