To our Friends and Neighbors in West Hempstead,
As the May 17 school budget vote approaches, we are once again presented with a $54,397,183.00 budget ($ 1,500,000 higher than last year ) and asked to support it.
Looking back at the year that passed, we cannot help but realize that our economy has not recovered from the recession. Homes are being foreclosed or are sold in short sales, remain empty, or are being rented to multiple tenants.
The small businesses, the "backbone of our economy," crushed by the ever rising taxes and faltering economy, are closing.
Our seniors, who have not received any COLA increase in their benefits in the last two years, are feeling the effects of this recession even more.
As for our young college graduates and professionals, they are struggling to find permanent jobs with benefits.
Yet, we have heard at school meetings some people advocate more spending for "the children, the future of America,” more education spending to "maintain the value of our homes" and the ever shameful comment "if you cannot afford it, move out of West Hempstead."
Our financial situation is not going to improve in the next few years. Albany is broke.
The Auditor's Report available on the West Hempstead School District Web site, indicates our contribution to the Teachers Retirement Plan increased 39 percent this year, and the contribution to the NYS Employee Retirement Plan (other staff) increased 60 percent. The auditor states “these are trends expected to continue.”
This means WE WILL BE ASKED TO PAY EVEN MORE in the years ahead. Now is the time to all come together and decide our priorities, chart the future of our community and the future of our children, even if that means we have to deal with difficult and painful choices.
Americans have always taken pride in being compassionate, just and honorable.
The best education for our students, the future of our country, might be the one they will learn outside the classroom, facing the realities of life, striving for ideals, learning that present day sacrifice means:
- Honoring the seniors of our community who sacrificed when they were young so that we can enjoy our freedoms of today.
-Respecting the needs and challenges faced by the small businesses, the backbone of our economy, thus strengthening future employment prospects
-Understanding the hardships faced by many of their fellow citizens who have given them a community to be proud of.
Teachers and administrators, who owe their livelihood to the community that employs them, should understand that we do appreciate what they do for our children and respect their professionalism, but we can afford only so much.
If we are to get through these tough economic times, they must also share in the sacrifice by demanding less and giving more. In doing so, we can maintain the younger generation of teachers in our community, and our students will continue to receive the education they deserve.
Our school board members are our neighbors and friends and they tirelessly give their time to serve their community. We thank them for their contributions ,we urge them to resist the pressures put upon them by special interest groups and consider the community as a whole, now and in the years ahead.
It is with a heavy heart that I will vote ‘No’ this year to the proposed increased budget.
Lilly Haliasos is a 34-year-resident of West Hempstead.
Editor's Note: This opinion piece is part of Patch is also interested in your viewpoint as well. Please send your opinion to Tara.Conry@Patch.com. For an overview of the school budgets proposed for the Malverne and West Hempstead school districts