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Sunday, March 1, 2015
Letters to the Editor
Concerns over transportation cuts

To the Editor:

This letter is in response to the articles regarding budget cuts to the high schools (“Major cuts in store for high schools,” Feb. 14-20. “Community fights for sports,” Feb. 21-27). I am an accountant and work on budgets in my current job. Has the Board of Education considered imposing activity-based fees to the high school families that use the after school and bus services? A number of school districts have started imposing nominal fees to help defray the costs of sports programs and busing. These fees keep the programs in place, and do not increase school taxes to the community.

I would much prefer to pay a $150 transportation fee to have my son on a yellow school bus than to have bus transportation eliminated. This proposed transportation fee would include all families using the buses, both public and private schools, to close the budget shortfall.

I would also think that the bowling team families would prefer to pay an activity fee of $50 rather than have the bowling team eliminated. These activity-based fees would have to be kept at a minimum cost as not to impose a burden on families, but yet include all of the sports teams to close the budget shortfall.

The fees I have mentioned are just estimates. The district accountants will be able to calculate what amount will close the deficit and keep the sports teams and school busing in place.

I hope that the board members and Dr. Heidenreich will consider this revenue-generating alternative as they work on finalizing the school budget over the next couple of weeks.

Mary Rose Bosko
Valley Stream

To the Editor:

I am writing in regard to your article written in the Herald (“Major cuts in store for high schools,” Feb. 14-20) concerning the school budget for the Valley Stream Central High School District. In particular, cuts being made to buses traveling to Sacred Heart Academy in Hempstead and Chaminade in Uniondale.

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ipinnaro

As a parent of a special needs child who was classified as a 12 month child meaning that they received school during the summer months I dont' understand the anger regarding transportation to non-school district high schools. Growing up in Queens and attending an accelerated academic program in Astoria - I at 12 years old was riding the subway from Jackson Heights to Astoria every day. My autistic daughter, at 12 was riding the Nassau County Bus from Fletcher Avenue to Ormonde Avenue every day during the summer session in order to continue to receive her academic services. My husband and I didn't do anything other than teach our child to ride the bus, require that she call or text us when she got on the bus, call or text us when she got off, and when she arrived home after walking ALONE from Merrick Road approximately 6 blocks to our home. Even as a special needs child we have alway encouraged the need to be independent and self-sufficient. While I understand that the Metrocard and riding the buses may not be the ideal for these kids or their parents, at some point, they are going to have to figure out how to take advantage of public transportation, and realize that it is not the powder keg of danger some of these parents are describing. While I do not agree with the budget cuts being proposed. I do not feel that the Metrocard option for these 90 students is bad one. What I find equally appalling is that fact that the budget proposes cutting two varsity teams (bowling and rifle) that are the ONLY co-ed teams in existence in the district. In addition, the rifle team is comprised of the 1 middle school and 3 high schools in the district - which has saved the district money over at least 10 years in maintaining only one range, instead of the 3 in existence. Rifle is also one of the only teams with members that go to the Junior Olympics, and can feed an Olympic team. The rifle team has an exemplary standing in the state, has members that have received FULL scholarships to military colleges (West Point, Anapolis, etc) as well as regular colleges, and has had no incidence of injury requiring the school district to pay for medical injuries - which cannot be said of football, lacrosse, or wrestling (as I witnessed first hand on Saturday 3/2 when a Memorial wrestling team member dislocated his elbow during his match). An ambulance was called, and the student was taken away - all at the district's expense! If we are to produce WELL ROUNDED individuals, not only faith can be encouraged. Respect for the opposite sex, pride in your school and team work, producing individuals who will respect and defend the Constitution and our country, and are capable and independent individuals is as important. The Metrocard solution enables the district to meet their obligations to the non-district student, as well as make room to hopefully maintain these teams. If it is completely unacceptable for these parents to let their high schoolers ride the public buses, and it is completely unacceptable to make other student suffer due to budget cuts, then we need to look at the blatant lack of sense regarding the salaries being paid to teachers in the district. In 2009 of the 549 teachers or adminstrators in the central high school district, 65% of them earned more than $110,000 (most in the $125K range - with the highest at $176K). In a school district where the median household income in 2009 was $80K that is excessive. Especially since I cannot see that the education my children have received comprised anything more than TEST PREP. Also, while we are informed that we need to cut costs, we have not been able to see a copy of the proposed budget to identify if the board of education for our district has developed a budget that meets the needs of the district. As the taxpayer, we should have the opportunity to review the budget and determine whether it in fact suits and meets those needs. There needs to be transparency and accountability by these adminstrators to us as the ones who pay their salaries, benefits, and fund their retirement. We need to unite and make the adminstration see that we are no longer going to accept as truth what is told to us, especially if they cannot produce the information to back up their statements. Too many discrepancies have been found only in the last few weeks to trust that there is not a problem - especially since there has not been a financial report done by the treasurer as we have not had one for 3 months at least! We need to keep asking questions, and requiring answers. And if we don't like the answers, we should act to have more control over how our money is spent.

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