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Lawrence School Board Candidate: Uri Kaufman

Incumbent is unopposed in bid for third term.

On May 15, School District 15 residents will be able to vote on a proposed $93,155,150 schools budget and a $2,995,135 library budget. They will also be able to vote for school board and library trustees. Uri Kaufman is unopposed in his election for a third term. Patch spoke with him about the issues facing the school district. 

Why should residents come out and support you for another term?

I believe that the board has a proven record of defending the public purse while delivering quality education for all the children. On our watch we have upgraded the schools with a $17 million capital improvement program. Our facilities are now state of the art. We have also gotten our graduation rate up to 98.7 percent, an extraordinarily high level for a district in which over 60 percent of the kids are on free or reduced lunch. The budget this year is $93.1 million, the exact same as last year (despite 3 percent inflation), and those two budgets are $1 million less than the $94.1 million budget two years ago.  

What do you see as the major issue(s) facing the Lawrence School District? 

Lawrence is facing the same challenges confronting other districts. Pensions now make up over 11 percent of our budget, far more than in years past. State aid made up 14 percent of our budget in 1991, it is only 6 percent today. The state has done nothing to reduce the mandates that drive up budgets, but they have passed a 2 percent cap on taxes, thereby limiting our ability to pay for those mandates.   

What do you see as the greatest strength of District 15?

We have a dedicated staff and administration that are second to none. We also have a great tradition of excellence both in the classroom and in our athletics and arts programs. Our students regularly place in the Intel competition and our football team has won the Long Island Championship once and the Nassau Championship twice in the last 5 years. 

What do you see as the greatest weakness in the district and what would you do to change it? 

The only weaknesses are those confronting all districts, as described above. We need Albany to start listening to the needs of our schools. 

What changes, if any, should be made in the district’s budget?

There really isn't much that I would change in the budget. It is a strong budget in weak economic times. But we will continue to fight to find efficiencies wherever we can.

Is there any other information you would like to share about yourself or your goals? What would you like the community to know about you?

That I am as enthusiastic now to serve as I was six years ago, that I will always fight for all the kids — but mostly how appreciative I am to my fellow neighbors and friends for giving me the privilege to serve.

suddenlysudz@yahoo.com May 10, 2012 at 07:47 PM
You should have asked him how many of his own children attend Lawrence Public School. My guess is none! These Board Members all send their kids to private schools while raping our district for the busing and other resources. All these board members have alterior motives for sitting on this board. It is a travesty. The one thing Albany needs to do is take notice.
5TResident May 10, 2012 at 09:01 PM
Sir, The Courts have already ruled that private school parents have as much right to sit on the board as public schools parents. This is because private school parents pay THE SAME TAXES to the District as public school parents, and therefore have THE SAME RIGHT to decide how that tax money is going to be spent. People like you want private school parents to cough up public schools taxes but to keep quiet when it comes to how the money is spent or how much the taxes are going to be. That is not America. If you, sir, don't want private school parents on the Board, fine; just pass a law exempting private school parents from paying school taxes. You'll have an all public-school parent Board in short order but you won't have much of a budget to work with. That all being said, did you read the article at all? Did you see how much money this board is putting into the District school system? Did you read how under this Board, there is a 98.7 percent graduation rate?? Can't you put aside your anti-Semitism for just a few minutes and see how much good this Board is doing for the District while keeping taxes as low as possible for EVERYONE in District 15? And as far as private schools are concerned - believe me when I tell you that many, many families who send their children to private schools WISH they could send them to the public schools. The private school tutions are insanely high.
Susan Weber May 11, 2012 at 12:49 AM
I agree, 100% as the parent of a public school child, anyone can sit on the board. I personally could care less what your religion is. For all I care you could believe L Ron hubbard is Suri Cruise's father. Yes, are taxes are down. They are now some of the lowest on Long Island. Also down are test scores, and the district as a total for the first time is now on the not making AYP list. We have title 1 schools(receive aide for poor students) that are not making Ayp- adequate yearly progess, When this happens more than two years, the Federal Government mandates school choice, so if this district does not have another middle school we go to Hewlett or another district. You have teachers that are High School teachers being moved to Elementary schools, teaching younger children with no experience, and any extra tutoring program is gone. Except this year, I am sure the private school parents were informed when they are in a district not making AYP they are entitled to free tutoring. Surely the board members told the private schools that? 1/2
Susan Weber May 11, 2012 at 12:50 AM
also, I agree tuitions are sky rocketing, which is why the enrollment at the public School has not declined as projected. There currently 3110 students are projected for next year. Many coming in from Yeshivas, and doing quite well. Great Neck has a kosher cafeteria, maybe something together as a community we can look into. I just wonder why no private school parents took advantage of the free tutoring? Also, the graduation rate number is confusing since the state report card for last year has it far lower, as a matter of fact we did not meet our goals.I have posted the link for your viewing pleasure. https://reportcards.nysed.gov/files/2010-11/AOR-2011-280215030000.pdf Also, take a look at the US today top 11,500 public high schools, Hewlett, 222, RVC 22, Lawrence unranked. I agree with fiscal responsibility, but at what cost? I urge all parents of children in this district to really look at our communities children ALL of them and you will see how short changed ALL THE KIDS are.
5TResident May 11, 2012 at 01:05 AM
Susan, you argue convincingly and well. Maybe this board isn't getting the job done. Does anyone else know what you know? Why has there been so little competition for District 15 seats this year? You should write a column for the Patch and the Standard. People need to know these things. I guarantee you that private school parents will not tolerate an inept school board even if it is comprised of a majority of private school parents, contrary to what some might believe. The school board is a public trust.
Susan Weber May 11, 2012 at 01:29 AM
5T The community on a whole I think has come a very long way. Yet, it is complacent. They see taxes lower and automatically assume that things are fine. While I agree with fiscal responsibility, I ask you do you not pay more for tuition each year? How can we not spend more for our education? The papers and the naysayers all gumble about the 32,00 per pupil we spend per child, but no one reads the fine print 17,000 of that is for transportation, debt and administration, we have no debt, and barely anyone left, I am not saying cut mileage or transportation, but we can cut it in a few areas, we can charge for things in the district , yet we don't for fear of an uprising. When district children regardless where they go to school are not getting services, or less qualified professionals for their specific problems, it becomes a waste. The board itself is fighting amongst each other.The articles have been in the paper. When they went to close 6 parents went to the board, and told them to close 4/5 and give 5 to the library, 4 sell, and make 6 /2 district schools. AND if need be they could build on. They refused. The building sat there for three years? Like I said, don't care who runs it, just want people who care about the children and are not puppets, because if we don't pick up our scores, we will be forced to work with the state on education, and sending them somewhere else. Money will be controlled by the state.

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