Niskayuna school board failing in its fiscal duties
Many Niskayuna taxpayers are appalled and feel betrayed by their elected representatives’ refusal to deal with the growing fiscal crisis. This is a clear abdication of duty. It demonstrates a shameful lack of will and total disregard of taxpayer concerns and expectations.
The hard reality is: The district finances are in dire shape. Asking for additional inputs, further studies, and more hand-wringing only worsen the problem. The board’s indifference to residents’ concerns was again on display with their recent decision to ignore the hard work and thoughtful findings of the committee on school consolidations.
School administration has failed to produce any semblance of a pathway out of the mess they have created. The board is complicit. The school superintendent (highest paid in the area) has not demonstrated the ability to lead in the current environment. Extending her contract early without any justification, except past practice, is perplexing if not indefensible.
Question: What to cut? Answer: everything necessary. Yes to school consolidations, job eliminations and or consolidations, pay freezes and program reductions.
How about dropping the assistant superintendent for business position? Where is the business plan? What are we getting for $150,000? In spite of an acclaimed “25 percent reduction” in administration, there remains a plethora of directors, administrators and assistants to principals and superintendents, many with six-figure salaries.
In last year’s record turnout, 55 percent of voters told the board what they expected: fiscal responsibility. Specifically, staying below the tax cap, and getting expenditures more in line with declining revenues.
Rejection of the proposed override was a grass-roots movement with no formal organization or coordination. Residents should loudly pronounce their continuing dissatisfaction and demand that this board meet its responsibilities — “for the sake of the kids” and all Niskayuna residents.
Common Core means more gov’t control
I agree with Tricia Farmer’s Feb. 9 Viewpoint, “New York should pull out of flawed Common Core,” but from a different vantage point.
First, education is not a power delegated to the federal government by the Constitution, but is the role of the states. There is no exception for the Feds to promote Common Core or even to have a Department of Education.
In arguing for ratification of the Constitution by the states that had recently thrown off the yoke of King George III, James Madison in Federalist 45 says, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the state governments are numerous and indefinite.”
But federal power has grown progressively at the expense of the states. One way this has been done, and is now being done to promote Common Core, is to dangle money in front of the states, which will fawningly give away power for a piece of the action.
Secondly, if Common Core is as flawed as Farmer says it is, then we’ll have foisted a gigantic blunder on our youth far more widespread than such failed experiments as the new math or the look-say reading method. Free enterprise and school choice in education with local experimentation would do more to improve education than an additional layer of bureaucracy that imposes uniformity as if it were a virtue in itself.
Such educational uniformity made sense for totalitarian nations such as Nazi Germany or the former Soviet Union as a means to stifle dissent and control their citizens. But how many of us would entrust the federal government with programming the minds and hearts of our children and grandchildren? But that’s what Common Core does.
Health care system not so bad after all
As we read on an almost daily basis about the vagaries of the U.S. health care system, let me give it an individualized positive boost.
I recently completed two surgeries at the Albany Regional Eye Surgery Center in Latham. All of my records were electronically submitted in advance by my physicians, hence there was no duplicative, time-consuming paperwork on the surgical days.
The surgery center sent a Lincoln Town Car with courteous driver to pick me up and take me home. Every staff person I encountered was a knowledgeable, dedicated participant in an obviously well-trained and -managed team. Infection control principles were thoroughly adhered to.
The elapsed time from leaving my home, having the surgery, recovering and returning home was less than four hours. And by the way, this was accomplished utilizing the dreaded “government health care” — otherwise known as Medicare.
Kudos to Gazette for 2014 Outlook section
The five sections of 2014 Outlook was some of the most enjoyable reading material your very capable staff has written. Once again they show their expertise at how good they do their jobs.
What’s equally important is the great people they wrote about, the people who are making the difference in our lives. These people are showing us what can be accomplished when they start with so little and build it into so much. We have to keep in mind that if it wasn’t for their great efforts, there would be fewer jobs to be had in this area.
It’s good news to read that something is showing improvement in this economy. I have the deepest respect for what the above people have done.
Walter “Neal” Brazell
Where will they stop on minimum wage?
Re Feb. 18 letter by Mr. Don Steiner, I’d suggest to him, and to all his political feather types, that the minimum wage increase he proposes does not go far enough. Why not make it $20 per hour so these folks can really live?
Better yet, why not out and open a business and pay that rate to all your entry-level employees (so you can feel really good about yourself). Then, after about two years when you go out of business, you can join the millions of others on the USSA [United Soviet States of America] employment line.
In fact, I’d take bets that you care so much about the downtrodden that you pay an extra 20 percent on your federal taxes (voluntarily, of course) and you donate at least one day a month at the local City Mission helping the homeless.
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