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Elected Officials Hear School Districts' Concerns

Politicians hear worries about unfunded mandates.

The Hewlett-Woodmere Board of Education hosted a New York State Legislators’ Forum on Friday at the .

Senator Dean Skelos and Assemblymen Harvey Weisenberg, Edward Ra and Brian Curran met with school district representatives to discuss the challenges facing public schools on Long Island.

Board members, school district administrators, and PTA representatives from 11 local school districts attended the forum. Participating districts included: Baldwin, East Rockaway, Hewlett-Woodmere, Lawrence, Long Beach, Lynbrook, Valley Stream #13, Valley Stream #24, Valley Stream #30, Rockville Centre, and West Hempstead.

 “It is imperative to continue the conversation between state and local officials and the school districts they serve to ensure that the needs of students and community members are adequately represented,” said Hewlett-Woodmere Superintendent Dr. Joyce M. Bisso. “Long Island school districts are united in that we all face the same obstacle of being required to do much more, with significantly less funding from the government. In that scenario, it is the students who suffer most.”

Board Member Scott McInnes presented a “real-life” scenario for the legislators regarding the impact of the numerous new unfunded mandates from the state and county on local school districts. In the case of Hewlett-Woodmere, these unfunded mandates account for more than 88 percent of the district’s total budget increase for the 2012-2013 school year.

“It is important for our local officials to see first-hand just how these ongoing unfunded mandates affect our most precious commodity, the students,” he said. “The state and county continue to burden districts with these required initiatives with no assistance to fund them, and there is no end in sight.”

McInnes also appealed to the legislators to restore more than $16 million in funding that was taken away from the school districts present at the forum under the GAP Elimination Adjustment several years ago.

Representatives from all the districts present also addressed the senator and assemblymen with similar issues regarding unfunded mandates, including the new teacher and principal evaluation system; the negative impact of cutting staff, programs, and services; restoration of funds eliminated under GAP Adjustment; the costs of special education services; and the undermining of the mission of public education in New York State.

The legislators actively listened and were responsive to the dialogue. Skelos, Weisenberg, Ra and Curran thanked the representatives present and requested that the districts form specific recommendations. A follow-up meeting was tentatively scheduled for October 2012.

Stephen B. Witt May 06, 2012 at 02:08 AM
To E. Rollins: As Stephen said Ms. Gates, Mr. Altus and I were at the budget meeting. The other candidate running for the school board was not. I wish he came because we could have had a debate on the issues facing public education and in particular Hewlett-Woodmere.
Stephen B. Witt May 07, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Did you know that the new education commission established by the Governor has some outstanding members but does not have a school board member or association representing school districts? This commission undermines the State Education department and gives the appearance that the Governor wants to take away local control and merge school districts. We for one are opposed to anything that takes away local control. Steve, Melissa and Jon
Stephen B. Witt May 10, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Fred, You are correct about giving $150,000 early retirement incenttive but if you had been to our board meetings you would have known that we saved over $300,000 the first year and alot more after that. Anyone doing their math and concerned about property tax would be happy with what the school board did.
Chris Albanese May 10, 2012 at 05:50 PM
As a former School Business Manager in the NYC DOE, I say GOD BLESS YOU!!! Things go straight into the toilet when you try to make "cookie cutter" school districts. We need to remian in charge of our SD and I am with you 100% to keep the state's grubby mitts off of our children's education. Can you imagine if they tried to merge us with Lawrence/Inwood/Cedarhurst + VS N/S/C + Lynbrook to form a "Region" like they did in the city. What a disaster that would be. Thanks for the info Mr. Witt.
Chris Albanese May 10, 2012 at 05:57 PM
E. I was unaware that a pilot iPad program had started at FECC. I thought by having a student currently enrolled there I would have heard something about it. Perhaps they wanted to keep it on the DL until it they got some feedback at the end of the year or they just didn't want a hundred parents demanding one for their child too.

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