Letter to East Islip
Board of Education
NY – 13 April 2007 – SchoolWatch pleads case directly to East Islip Board of Education Trustees, requesting Teachers
Union concessions in order to ease community’s property tax burden.
Dear East Islip Board of Education Trustees,
East Islip parents/homeowners are faced, year after year, day after day, with the daunting challenge to make ends
meet, while trying to remain East Islip residents!
Over the years East Islip school personnel have been very fortunate, receiving
well above average increases i.e., step, incremental and cost of living, along with their rich benefits packages. However,
during these economically challenging times, many East Islip residents have not received
yearly raises and/or if they did receive raises, they certainly were not enough to keep up with property tax increases (of
which ~60% are school taxes!). Yeah, we know it’s like that all over Long Island, blah,
blah, blah, blah…
So, why can’t East Islip strive to be different? Why can’t we be
the district that breaks the mold?
Every year the school wants more and more, claiming they cannot maintain what they have with the previous year’s
budget. The schools purposely schedule Art shows, and “Block Parties”, etc… prior to the budget vote to
persuade parents to vote YES. Some teachers even discuss the budget in the classrooms. In most instances, the budget never
passes on the first try so there is a re-vote. The PTA and all the so-called “Concerned Parents” campaign to persuade
parents by saying that passing the budget will require a minimal increase in our property taxes. All the while forgetting
that this years “minimal increase” is being piled on top of last years whopping 12.69% increase, and on top of
all the previous increases. I am a 40+ year resident of this community. I grew up here and went to through the school system.
I purchased my home in 1991, and have seen my property tax bill increase from just under $3,000/year to over $9,000 year,
an increase of over 300 percent! That is absurd!
Bottom line, schools needs to become more frugal. They need to maintain and work with what they have. If our district
would just cut out the fat…like the superintendent that hire others to do his job (hearing officers, three law firms,
court reporters, consultants, PR firms, etc…), eliminate non-mandated positions, i.e., doctors, nurses, teacher’s
aides, Union President’s salary. Most importantly, the BOE needs to stand firm on negotiating the teachers’ contract!
Teachers need to pay a larger percentage toward their benefits on par with the rest of the community.
Word around town is that you are ready to cave in and give away the store (I am not saying it; I am just repeating
what I have heard.) Please, do not settle the contract just because you think it will help pass the budget! That will only
backfire if we do not get real concessions. You need to eliminate the supplemental benefits, i.e., the Welfare Trust Fund
contribution alone, takes away $1.1M per year from our kids! Did you know East Islip is the
butt of jokes throughout NY State because of that Welfare Fund? We hear those jokes all the time when we are in Albany.
ELIMINATE THE WELFARE FUND CONTRIBUTION 100%! It is not a common
practice and you know it!
DECLARE AN IMPASSE! Without confidentiality, the union would lose its leverage!
School budget rejections have finally sparked conversations about how to enact significant changes. Taxpayers are
unquestionably squeezed. The school board as well as the administration of this district has an obligation to provide the
best possible service at the least cost, what the taxpayers can afford. Of course, school districts have all sorts of "explanations",
with some basis in fact but also with gross exaggeration - one of the most common being "state mandates." Yes, there are state
mandates, and many are foolish, and exist only because of pressure applied by teachers and other unions. Nevertheless, far
and away the bulk of every school budget is a function of school board decisions, e.g., what salaries to pay and how many
employees to hire.
Our Community cannot afford anything less than a complete rewrite of the Teachers’ contract! Ultimately,
your actions, not your words, will tell us whom you are representing…
Frank M. Gerace
do it for the Kids!
We are a proactive grassroots, community-based collective striving to promote transparency and fiscal responsibility,
as well as compliance with New York State
mandated regulations within all school districts. The ultimate aim of which is the overall elimination of red tape and wasteful
spending while concurrently promoting safety in all our schools. We are a progressive outlet committed to amplifying the voices
of everyday people. Our organization involves volunteer participants and allied collectives organized along the principles
of open and transparent decision-making processes, open public meetings and forums, and consensus building. The price of ignorance
is extremely high! For that reason, we remain committed to being ever vigilant and watchful.
SchoolWatch Fights for:
•The entire community – not just special interests!
•Transparency and fiscal responsibility in schools
•Educational and Property Tax reform
•Fair contract negotiations in collective bargaining situations
•Adequate funding for State mandated services
•Alternatives to property taxation in funding of schools
•Students to receive free appropriate educations
•Safe schools and healthy educational environments
•Uncovering school waste and mismanagement, corruption, and fraud
George Deabold, Executive Director and Chairman
Frank M. Gerace, President