Gazette Ceases Publication: Donates Archives to LHS

In 2010, the Larchmont Gazette ceased publication. In 2011 the publishers donated all contents to the Larchmont Historical Society, which will continue to make the Gazette archives available online.

All inquiries should be addressed to the Larchmont Historical Society.

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Vote Yes on Budget – And Then Do More for Reform

I am voting “yes” for this budget, “yes” for educational funding reform and “yes” to continuing an open, informed and extensive dialogue between the board of education and the community.

This was a year with unprecedented communication from the board of education. It is a year where community members took advantage of the information posted and asked for more. Budget FAQ’s were posted early in the year in response to questions raised at meetings or in emails. The board posted responses to everything from “how did we get into this mess” to “compensation and benefits” to information explaining mandates. See: Background: History and Overview of the Current Situation; Compensation and Benefits;Mandates and Other New York State Education Requirements.

The budget FAQs should also be read in conjunction with the “what the community values” posting under the budget communication link The board and all of us are charged with balancing these values with fiscal prudence in tough economic times. A 1.22% budget increase that recognizes and seeks to maintain these values is quite a feat.

I hope this budget passes because there is so much more to accomplish. If it fails, I fear we will be forced to spend our time scrambling to figure out how to accommodate budget cuts of $1.2 million. We will not get to decide how or where the budget is cut, we will not get to decide which teacher loses their job.

We need to do so much more.

We need to be involved, to talk about education. I want to encourage, support and celebrate strong teaching. The type of teaching that sparks my children to come home and want to know more. A good teacher encourages curiosity, creativity and critical thinking. Voting “no” to the budget will not further this goal.

New York State law sets out rules governing pensions and tenure – not our school board and not our teacher’s contract. Superintendent Paul Fried testified in hearings before George Latimer that the tenure rules need to be changed. Members of our board of education have testified asking for pension reform. We need to educate ourselves and openly and respectfully discuss and advocate on issues such as pension reform., tenure rules, and quality based teacher layoffs.

As a taxpayer and a resident of the legislatively challenged state of New York, it is very frustrating to read what is occurring in Albany. Yet, it does not absolve me of my responsibility to be informed, to write letters and even meet with legislators. Even if it feels as if I am repeatedly hitting my head against a brick wall. Our school board gets it, Sheldon Silver does not. We have a budget with the lowest tax increase in more than 40 years. We need to speak up as loudly to Albany as we did to our board. A “no” vote will not deliver your message to Albany, but is likely to hurt district children.

Please join me in voting “yes” to the 2010-2011 school budget. Please vote “yes” and please stay involved, become more informed on the issues and the challenges and think about our children’s education. There is a lot at stake.

Rina Beder
Larchmont, NY

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7 comments to Vote Yes on Budget – And Then Do More for Reform

  • Anon E Mous

    NO! If you cannot imagine cutting $1.2 million and confronting the issues now, just how will you cope with significant cost increases next year? As you say, “There is a lot at stake.” So NOW is the time for NO more taxes. The message will be quite clear.

    ‘Panic at the thought of doing a thing is a challenge to do it.’ – Henry S. Haskins

    • Jonathan Sacks

      The cost increases can only be addressed next year (and for the coming 4 years or more) when we have a new contract negotiated. The bulk of the increases in the current year are contractual, only the union has the ability to give meaningful relief to the tax payer. If you think that is going to happen by voting no, I think you are very naive.

      I understand the anger and frustration, but voting no does not create a solution. We shouldn’t need to wait for the failure, the Unions should step up now and save the vote by bringing something to the table with no strings attached. If you feel that voting no will somehow bring them in, please explain why? None of the actions to date have shown any level of concern or empathy for the cuts currently made. An offer to make a concession with the caveat of extending a bad contract was not an offer that any responsible board could accept. So why do you think they will be interested after a failure? Should the school system do more teacher cuts and fund a $30k re-vote just to fail again with no concessions from the union? This is simply not a practical or responsible way to run a school system.

      If concessions are to be made then I implore the Unions to step up and do it now and not cost the system even more money or risk a failed budget and the layoff of more staff. Only the Unions at this point can maintain class sizes and restore cut programs and I do not think a No vote changes anything.

      • Anon E Mous

        Please Jonathan, fold up the white flag. Learn from Sun Tzu.

        Hints: How does the new Superintendent contract differ from the previous one? What are the projections for next year’s school budget and tax rates? Or isn’t that long-term planning done here? And how many will have joined the Larchmont Gazette commenter who moved to Westport, CT?

        Oh, and ask each School Board member which direction their own real property taxes have gone during the last two years. You may find a surprise

        ‘We often give our enemies the means to our own destruction.’ – Aesop

  • Cathy DeVore

    I want to compliment Rina on a well thought out approach to one of the most significant local and national issues we face. I will vote yes on May 18th for this budget, quality education and our schools. HOWEVER, I am deeply dissatisfied with our teacher’s union and their lack of cooperation. I will continue to work towards a more realistic contract in 2011 and expect serious progress to be made. Please join me in voting yes, and then get more involved.

    • Anon E Mous

      Express your dissatisfaction, not contentment. You’ll get no change if you accept what is as what could be.

      Vote no and then really you’ll have an opportunity to get involved and get change for improvements.

      ‘Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.’ – George Orwell

  • Cecilia Absher

    Thank you Rina for your thoughtful letter – which captures so much. I could not have said it better.

    I am voting yes -not for the status quo but for the kids – because I truly value them and their education!

    I understand and respect how this budget was arrived at and that the Board and administration really have done their best to preserve the core of the educational program. Still I am sad to see the cuts that were made last year and this year – it does negatively impact the educational experiences of children. So, I too am worried about where we go from here and I want to be part of whatever process is available to ensure that we sustain quality education at a price the community can afford. I hope all those who care about education will get together for a healthy, productive dialog.

    • Anon E Mous

      Do you really understand or only believe you do?

      Do you understand the rumour that one or more School Board members will pay less school property taxes this year than previously?

      Do you understand the impact of an exodus to CT.?

      ‘A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.’ – George Bernard Shaw