Letters to the Editor - 05.12.11

Nosy Neighbors
    East Hampton
    May 5, 2011
To the Editor,
    I have a neighbor who loves to look in my yard. Any little thing that does not meet with his approval, I get a phone call. The messages are never nice.
    Well, after nearly 20 years of this aggressive behavior, I finally went to the police. The best they could do was call him. They told me that neighbor disputes are the worst. I believe it.
    Nosy neighbors remind me of school bullies. Nice, they get away with their abusive attitude, it just perpetuates. The only reason my neighbor got away with it in the first place is that we felt like we had to keep the peace. No more. I am done with that. I will now call the police anytime this person calls me or should he approach me.
    Fences make for good neighbors, only here in East Hampton a fence may only be four feet high from the front end of your house to the road. No good to me; our neighbor’s house sits just to the side of my front yard. Next stop the garden nursery!
    Should I ever move I will make sure it is to upstate New York, preferably in the woods. Bears would make for more suitable neighbors. Your home should be your retreat, not a place you want to retreat from. I have kept my shades down for years on the side of my house that faces his for fear he is looking in.
    So I say to all you neighbor bullies, live and let live and please keep your nose on your side of the fence.
    By the way, I never look in my neighbor’s yard.
MARY WOOD


Was Delighted
    Noyac
    May 5, 2011
To the Editor:
    I was delighted to learn that Steve Gaines is seeking the Republican nomination for a seat on the East Hampton Town Board. I have known Steve for a number of years and can positively attest to his knowledge of East Hampton affairs and to his superb research skills that he has developed over years as an outstanding journalist. To the charge that a journalist and a writer does not have the qualifications to be a member of the board, I take note that Ronald Reagan was an actor. Should the Republicans chose to nominate Steve, they would be doing themselves a lot of good.
    The fact that Steve is running as a Republican is a good thing. There is no reason why all the writers in East Hampton should be Democrats.
Richard Cummings


E.L.A. Testing
It was silent, quiet, no sound at all except pencil marks on paper
It was long
It was short
I finished first
I finished last
I had to finish or not finish
I had to concentrate or get them all wrong
It was silent, no sound at all
    SETH KAPPEL
    Fifth grade
    Springs School


Are Not Happy
    Montauk
    May 9, 2011
Dear Editor,
    Voting no on a school budget tells the school board that you are not happy with the way they are spending your tax dollars. It is not necessary for you to sign a blank check made out to the school board.
    Voting no does not close the school. Voting no does not change the quality of education teachers are giving to your child — they are professionals.
    Voting no tells the school board to stop spending your money on items that do not directly affect the quality of your child’s education.
    When a school district budget is voted down, the school board has three options to choose from: Go to an austerity budget with only mandated expenses to keep the school operating, without the extracurricular activities, vote again on the very same budget, or make cuts to the frills, benefits, salaries, and extracurricular activities and present a realistic, reduced (estimated) budget for a new vote.
    The budget presented for a vote is only an estimated budget, as there are a number of items that cannot be determined on May 17 — salary negotiations, assessed valuation, increased mandated expenses, just to name a few.
    Tuesday, May 17, vote no on the Montauk School budget. You are paying too much.
BOB LAMPARTER


An Excellent School
    Springs
    May 8, 2011
Dear David,
    I am running for the Springs School Board because I believe that public education is the foundation of American democracy. We educate our young to carry on our traditions of citizenship, to become productive members of our community, to realize self-actualization, and to become lifelong learners. We need to provide a quality education, in a safe environment and as economically efficiently as possible.
    There are also some very selfish reasons to maintain an excellent school. Besides that the fact that the children in the Springs School today will work to provide my Social Security and Medi­care benefits, as I have longevity in my family, the quality of that school also maintains my house values.
    If the school declines, so does the value of my house. This is what some people are unable to realize; their best protection for their largest investment is a great school. They complain that the price of the school continues to go up — name one thing that has not gone up. However, as a retired longtime teacher and school administrator living on a fixed small income, there are ways to curtail and even reduce the cost of education and these avenues must be pursued.
    We have seen the efforts that began when David and Carol Buda led a movement that resulted in the code enforcement people being aroused and pushed into doing the job that they were quite complacent about previous to the Budas attending town board meetings with posters of pictures of houses with a slew of cars parked around each house. This process must continue. Springs has an increase of some 1,600 or so people in the last 10 years, according to the census figures. It’s for sure there have not been 800 houses built since then; not even 200, I dare say. So it seems there is still a great deal left to do in this area alone.
    Since I have lived full time in Springs I have bitterly complained at the waste that exists in the inefficiency of these small districts each with a superintendent and some with a principal as well. In my own district where I worked for 12 of my 27 years in education, Yonkers Public Schools, there are 39 schools, 5 of which are high schools, 25,000 students, and 3,000 teachers to maintain. Our superintendent’s yearly salary is $260,000. He served for five years without a raise and just received a $25,000 raise. Bernard Pierorazio was also recently named administrator of the year. So why does Ray Gualtieri in East Hampton make $4,000 more than him, with 1,926 students and two schools and only one high school? So, I am as mad as hell, and I don’t think we should take it anymore.
    The key words are consolidation, consolidation, consolidation. In the words of Victor Hugo, “Greater than the tread of a mighty army is an idea whose time has come.” And the idea is the consolidation of these small districts. Imagine ordering duplicating paper used by all schools in abundance en masse? What a savings!
    If elected, I will work to increase the quality of the Springs School while zealously addressing aggressive ways to cut all expenses. Of all the people who are running, I have the background, the tenacity, and the time to do the job.
    Sincerely,
    PHYLLIS I. MALLAH 


Fine Reputation
    Springs
    May 9, 2011
Dear Editor,
    My name is Arthur Goldman, and I am running for the school board in Springs. The homeowners in Springs, more so than any other district in the surrounding area, bear the greatest burden of school taxes, because of the lack of commercial property and the housing density in Springs. This means that every dollar spent in Springs must be carefully analyzed. This means that the budget process must start early and be transparent. This means that all the voices in the community must be heard and considered.
    When my wife, Eileen, and I moved to Springs 18 years ago we did so because the Springs School enjoyed a fine reputation. As our children moved through the school we came to understand the reason for that reputation. What the Springs School lacked in bells and whistles (a cafeteria, a dedicated gymnasium, and auditorium), it made up for with a staff from top to bottom that created an atmosphere connecting every child to the school. I want the Springs School to continue to be the reason families decide to move to Springs.
    I am asking for your vote. Voting takes place on Tuesday from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Springs School library. Vote yes on the budget.
    Thank you,
    ARTHUR GOLDMAN


Support the Budget
    Springs
    May 8, 2011
Dear Editor,
     I graduated from Springs and am a second-home owner here. I urge those like me who benefited from this wonderful gem of a school to support the budget.
    I have built a successful career. As I reflect on the influences in my life, I can honestly point to those “un-mandated” subjects and those enrichment opportunities, as well as my exposure to the arts and sports at Springs, that changed my life. These are the programs that had the big impact and helped prepare me for my future.
    No matter what we may think of the superintendent, the teachers are at the core of the spirit and heart of the school. The long-term prospects of the students would suffer with increased class size and reduced options.
    I endorse Arthur Goldman and Tim Frazier, since they provide a temperate balance of knowledge and experience in the educational system, and I know them to be candidates of vision.
    Sincerely,
    NANCY BANFIELD


Send a Message
    Springs
    May 9, 2011
 To the Editor,
    The Springs School Board election is fast approaching on Tuesday, 1 to 9 p.m. Please mark your calendars and go out to vote. I will be voting a resounding no on the budget to send a message to an unresponsive school board.
    I will vote no to send a message to the board that in these terrible economic times giving an almost 12-percent raise to the school superintendent was unacceptable. I will vote no to a budget that provides unnecessary busing at our expense. I will vote no to a budget that includes a taxpayer-funded, nonmandated prekindergarten program. I will vote no to send a message to the Springs School Board that they cannot, and should not, ignore taxpayers’ pleas for responsive and responsible management of our district.
    I will vote no to let the board know that some of us will not tolerate ever-increasing teacher salary and benefit contracts and that step raises have gotten out of control. Negotiating better teacher and administrator contracts is not “breaking the union,” as Arthur Goldman commented on the Springs Homeowners Alliance Web site. Negotiating is what happens when both sides work hard to represent the best interests of the people they represent. How can we possibly have fair negotiations when the board members are often literally in bed with the employees?
    With teacher contract negotiations currently stalled, I cannot vote for a candidate who is part of the system — either working in, retired from, or married to an employee because of the obvious conflict of interest. Ms. Mallah publicly claimed that “Doctors and lawyers all make more money than any teacher with usually a lot less education.” This statement is false, bordering on ridiculous. I believe that leaves one candidate left. I truly hope that the next election brings better choices.
    Please remember that we get the government we deserve. Remember to vote.
CAROL BUDA


Without the Guns
    Springs
    May 9, 2011
Editor,
    If we didn’t know that $4 million could be cut from the Springs School budget, it might be possible to support this budget, but knowing that it was possible to make realistic cuts and then not make them, is unconscionable. Springs is stuck with an absolutely unfair burden to begin with, but for the board members to fail to reduce this budget to the extent that they can shows an incredible insensitivity to the situation most of us are in. And to add 20 grand to a superintendent’s salary that is already out the window puts the picture in sharper perspective. It’s highway robbery without the guns.
    The backgrounds of the potential new members make it very unlikely we will see any relief from this situation in the future. Everybody running is in on the game.
    They may think they’re doing it all “for the kids,” but what they’re doing is destroying the tax base of Springs.
JON CLEMENS


Consummate Educator
    Springs
    May 9, 2011
Dear David,
    I have known Phyllis Mallah since she first bought her house on our street in 2002. I know her as a woman devoted to her family and grandchildren, a woman of many interests from writing her cooking column, “Cooking Long Island’s Bounty,” in the Clearwater Beach newsletter to taking adult education classes at the high school and being a political activist. But first and foremost, she is a consummate educator.
    Retirement from the job she loved as a school administrator came about only because she could no longer leave Springs, which she dearly loves. She has the energy, time, knowledge, and the perseverance to bring our school to new heights. I urge you to vote for her to join our school board in its quest to provide for the best school at the best price.
    Sincerely,
    CLAIRE CONDON


Degree of Clarity
    Springs
    May 9, 2011
To the Editor:
    Arthur Goldman is an excellent candidate for the Springs School Board. He has been a resident of Springs for close to 20 years and is familiar with the local community. In addition, Mr. Goldman has sent two children to the Springs School. He offers a needed perspective and a degree of clarity and professionalism that the Springs School Board could use. Mr. Goldman understands the issues facing the Springs community and Springs School.
    Those who declare that voting down the school budget will rein in supposedly “out of control” teachers’ salaries are very misinformed about the nature of teaching salaries and contracts. Voting down the budget will do nothing but hurt the children of Springs and the wider community. Mr. Goldman is running for school board to show support for the Springs School budget and the Springs community.
    I urge all of you within the Springs community to get out and vote to pass the school budget and to vote for Mr. Goldman, the best choice for the Springs School Board, on Tuesday.
    Sincerely,
    MARY GOLDMAN


Facts Are That
    Springs
    May 5, 2011
Dear David,
    While everyone has a right to freely express their opinion and vote their pocketbook, I’m concerned about all the misinformation that’s been circulating throughout the Springs community in regard to our school budget.
    But before I continue, it should be noted that while I serve on the Springs School Board, I am expressing my views as a Springs resident.
    The facts are that for the average homeowner in Springs ($600,000 assessed value), the proposed tax increase of 5.8 percent would result in an increase in property taxes of $289 for the year over what taxpayers are currently paying. Should the budget not pass after two attempts, a contingent budget would be implemented. The contingent budget calls for a 4.24-percent tax-rate increase, an increase of $211 for the year. (So regardless of which budget gets adopted, there will be a tax increase.)
    For the average Springs property owner, the difference between a passed budget and a contingent budget is $78 for the year.
    However, there would be a significant difference in staffing and program for students in prekindergarten through grade eight should a contingent budget be adopted, as more than $840,000 would need to be cut. Those cuts would involve some combination of the following measures: the layoff of several teachers and teaching assistants; a reduction of classroom sections for kindergarten, grade one, and grade three from four to three; elimination of the roof projects and the bus purchase, and the loss of pre-K, extracurricular activities such as band, chorus, interscholastic sports, and the fourth-grade opera.
    The majority of the cuts would be from programs that directly affect the students, because in a contingent bud­get the district is still required to pay all contractual obligations including staff salaries, pensions, and health insurance, as well the tuition for Springs high school students. So if you were under the impression that voting down the budget will lower teachers’ salaries, you would be incorrect.
    It should also be noted that there will be a proposition on the ballot for a new tuition agreement with East Hampton. If approved, this proposition will save Springs taxpayers $3.2 million from 2011 through 2015.
    So when you go to the polls Tuesday, pull that lever armed with the facts. If you desire additional budget information, you can go to the Springs School Web site and scroll down to “frequently asked questions regarding the proposed 2011-12 budget.”
    Sincerely,
    KATHEE BURKE GONZALEZ


Heart of Springs
    East Hampton
    May 8, 2011
Dear Editor:
    I have been reading the letters from Lynne Scanlon, as the representative for the Springs Homeowners Alliance, and they have proven interesting to me. While there is so much to respond to, I will try to focus on the “three nonnegotiable goals” the homeowners alliance has for Springs School. These goals are: “an objective and balanced board of education, improved school ranking, and parity in salary, benefits, and pensions with other professions in East Hampton.”
    Goal one: “An objective and balanced Board of Education.” The current board in Springs is comprised of members who work in customer service, law enforcement, construction, marketing, and legal counsel — a pretty broad gamut of occupations. They are also civic-minded, community-focused people who volunteer not only as board members, but in our community churches, civic organizations, and recreation programs.
    Anyone who has attended board meetings in the past five years, such as myself, can attest to the board being approachable, open-minded, and deliberate in their decision-making. They don’t always agree with each other. They don’t agree with all the parents and community members, because they can’t. For every parent or community member that wants something, there is someone else who wants the contrary.
    I have not always liked the board’s decisions, but I know I have always been given the opportunity to express my opinion. I have witnessed the board being chastised and criticized as well as thanked and complimented. Having attended board of education meetings in other school districts as well, I can attest that school boards don’t get much more “objective and balanced” than what we have had in Springs in recent years.
    Perhaps when Ms. Scanlon states the board should be more objective and balanced, what she is really looking for is someone who will slash as many programs and staff members as she and the homeowners alliance believe should be cut, regardless of state mandates or best practices in education. That seems to be the message they are putting forward about how they feel about the school and the budget.
    This somewhat humors me since the word objective, by definition, means “not influenced by personal feelings,” but it is their own personal feelings that make them think the board is currently not objective. I might even argue that it is Ms. Scanlon’s and the homeowners alliance’s personal feelings that are preventing them from being objective about this year’s budget and the current school board.
    I would also like to note that as unhappy as the homeowners alliance is with the current board and how critical they are of the current candidates, I don’t see Ms. Scanlon or any of the other homeowners alliance members volunteering to sit on the Springs School Board. It seems that while they certainly have a lot of complaining to do about all that is “wrong” with Springs School, they apparently can’t be bothered to be part of the solution. Perhaps someone from their organization should have been willing to be hands-on in the problem-solving rather than just pointing their finger.
    Goal two: “Improved school ranking.” Hmmm, let’s improve the school by voting no on the budget which would then require the school to cut staff and programs. Most school rankings are based on test scores alone. Springs school routinely performs well on state assessments, but those tests should not be the focus of a quality education program.
    Outstanding schools provide students with opportunities in enrichment through diverse academics, the arts, and athletics. They provide students with hands-on learning. They teach character education because they understand the importance of emotional intelligence and the role it plays in the level of success of both children and adults.
    Quality education includes busing because studies show busing improves attendance and consistent attendance improves performance. Quality education includes early education because studies have shown that investing in early education saves districts money in the long run. Early education reduces remediation in later years. Voting down the school budget will require loss of programs and staff which will only weaken a school, and in extension, its community.
    Goal three: “Parity in salary, benefits, and pensions with other professions in East Hampton.” What professions would they be exactly? The professions and salaries in East Hampton range from minimum wage laborers to millionaire professionals. Teachers are required to hold a master’s degree. There are teachers in Springs who have earned as many as four master’s degrees and multiple certifications. After 20 years of service, teachers salaries reach $100,000. People seem to want to argue what a teacher is worth. What can’t be argued is that teachers fall under the skilled-professional career category. Teaching requires a professional degree and specific training. They are paid for their expertise.
    Yes, our taxes are higher when compared to surrounding schools, but it is not because we are overstaffed or have an abundance of “extras.” We pay more in school tax because we have very little commercial business to offset the residential tax burden. Unlike Montauk, East Hampton, and Amagansett, we have no “main street.” I knew when I decided to build my house in Springs that the school budget burden fell on the homeowners. It always has. If you didn’t realize that when you decided to buy in Springs, well, caveat emptor. I bought here anyway because of the many benefits of living in Springs, but certainly at the top of the list was the true sense of community and un-Hampton-like environment it would provide for my future family. Springs School is very much the heart of Springs, and the tax burden falls on the Springs residents. It is not the fault of the board or the teachers — and certainly not the students.
    I, personally, do not agree with every line item that is in the Springs School budget. However, as a whole, it is a financially responsible and educationally sound budget. It may look like I am just drinking the Springs School board of ed Kool-Aid, but I also diligently watched as they made it and know that it is safe for consumption.
    So my message to Ms. Scanlon and the homeowners alliance is that your energy is misguided. Voting no to the Springs School budget is not going to help you reach any of your goals.
    Unhappy with the board? Offer yourself as a candidate next year. Want to improve school rank? Get involved by attending board of education meetings, PTA meetings, and school functions. Volunteer your time and services. Want to lower your taxes? Take your concerns to your county and state legislators. Push for consolidation.
    Ultimately, we all want what is best for the Springs community, and what is best for the community is a yes vote for the Springs School budget.
MICHELLE GRANT
 

Comments

Get over yourselves. We pay taxes just like you, the taxes that we pay go towards the maintinence of this beach and other beaches in the area. As well as the roads, that lead to our beautiful beaches. You bought the land that your house sits on not the entire beach.If we catch the fish that swim past your house, will you claim them too? There are peole who go down to the beach and respect the beach, we pick up our litter,we contain our fires,we may laugh a little too loud but laughter does not hurt anyone.We pay our wondefull marine patrol too do things such as watch over unruely beach go-ers? why not give the unruely reprecussions,and leave the nice folk alone?