Throwing Good Money After Bad
Many readers will recognize the name George Rand from his frequent Letters to the Editors of our local papers, as well as his regular column in the Tribune. Today, George's rant graces the cyberpages of The Community Alliance blog in what we hope will be the first of many such Guest Blogs. George calls this piece, A Post Card From Albany. We'll simply refer to this and other opinion pieces yet to come from George as, Rand-om Thoughts. :-)
I received a multicolored post card from my representative in Albany, State Senator Dean Skelos, in which he wrote that he tried to ease the burden of high property taxes by providing record levels of state aid to the Franklin Square school district.
Franklin Square schools now receive $3.7 million more each year than they did a decade ago. "This 156% increase," Sen. Skelos wrote, "is over six times the rate of inflation. This year, I provided $282,000 more for the Franklin Square District than the amount first proposed."
So why are school administrators always complaining about being shortchanged on state aid? Because Senator Skelos has not attacked the real problem: Instead of pouring more of our tax money into the public schools from a state budget that is in a fiscal crisis, he should force school districts to cut costs and put a lid on skyrocketing teachers' salaries.Thanks to their powerful union, public school teachers on Long Island are among the highest paid in the nation.
In the Lawrence school district, more than 32 percent of teachers have salaries of over $100,000 even though Lawrence is on a contingency budget. Most teachers receive extra pay for tasks that persons in the business sector would normally be expected to perform. Why should a teacher with a salary of $104,000 for about a nine month school year get paid extra for supervising kids in the cafeteria?
Senator Skelos shouldn't be surprised to find a first grade teacher in Franklin Square earning $101,374 plus an extra $801 for acting as grade chair. By union contract, this teacher's paycheck will soar in two years to $108,000. Since teachers work 182 days a year compared to the 234 days the average business sector employee puts in, that $108,000 is equivalent to about $139,000 in private business. Our high school superintendent with a salary of $240,000 is paid more than the vice president of the United States and the chief justice of the Supreme Court. And now the Franklin Square School District is projecting a whopping 8.6 percent rise in the next school budget.
Does this make any sense to Senator Skelos or to anyone else? Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi said recently, "School taxes here on Long Island are no longer a mere hardship; they are a destructive burden, devastating families."
Franklin Square, NY
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