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Mar 27, 2012 3:59 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Westhampton Beach Superintendent's Proposed Budget Pierces Tax Cap

Mar 28, 2012 1:21 PM

Westhampton Beach Schools Superintendent Michael Radday’s revised $51.8 million 2012-13 budget, which he unveiled during Monday night’s Board of Education meeting, pierces the state’s new tax cap and, if adopted, will result in the cutting of seven positions and the elimination of the district’s adult education program.

If the board opts to adopt his proposal during its next meeting on Monday, April 2, at least 60 percent of votes cast—considered a super-majority by the state—must sign off on the plan in May as part of the new rules regarding the cap on the tax levy. Last year, nearly 65.2 percent of voters approved the current $50.4 million spending plan; the budget passed, 436-233.

The latest budget proposal, which includes several changes from the version discussed two weeks ago, will result in a 2.89-percent increase in the tax levy, according to school officials. Under the plan, the tax levy—the amount that a school district can raise each year in property taxes—is expected to climb from $25.6 million this year to approximately $26.3 million next year.

If their attempt to pierce the cap fails and the budget is voted down, board members still have the option of revising their spending plan and holding a second vote. The difference this year is, if that happens and the budget is rejected a second time, school officials must then adopt a spending plan that has a zero-percent increase on the tax levy.

If that happens, Westhampton Beach would have to slash an additional $600,000 in spending, cuts that Mr. Radday described as devastating.

On Monday night, Mr. Radday explained that his plan would increase overall spending by $1.4 million, or 2.84 percent, from this year’s $50.4 million budget. As a result, the district’s tax rate would increase about 16 cents, or 2.89 percent, from nearly $5.53 per $1,000 of assessed valuation to almost $5.69 per $1,000.

Under his plan, Mr. Radday explained that three educators—an elementary school enrichment program teacher, a middle school reading teacher and a district speech teacher—would be let go. Additionally, a security guard would be laid off, as would two hallway/cafeteria monitors. The district’s director of technology position, which is currently vacant, would not be filled.

The superintendent also said that the district’s adult education program will be eliminated.

“We started talking about the core things the students K-12 need,” Mr. Radday said during the meeting. “As we got farther away from that core mission of the district, we looked for things that we could cut that would not affect the students and the adult education program was one of those things.”

The budget proposed two weeks ago, which would have stayed under the tax cap, suggested cutting between eight and 10 teaching positions and four support staff positions. It also would have cut all second sports teams at the middle school, athletic supervisors and the varsity bowling team. With the district now seeking to pierce the tax cap, all of the sports programs and many of the staff positions could be saved.

Mr. Radday announced Monday that he decided to go with a plan that pierces the tax cap after listening to School Board members address concerns about the amount of cuts that would have to be made—and how they would negatively impact the education of students.

“We have continually talked about the core mission here in our district and why we are here—to educate our kids,” said School Board Vice President Suzanne Mensch during Monday’s meeting. “That is why when we looked at the first list and we saw all of those cuts hitting our kids, we went back to the drawing board and decided that we didn’t feel we are ready to do that at this point.

“So, we went back and decided that if we adopt this budget that we need to pierce the cap,” she continued.

Pointing to the programs that would be preserved under his plan, Mr. Radday said he is confident that the budget will get the 60 percent of votes needed to pass it.

“We are very fortunate here that we have a community that, for a long period of time, has supported our budgets,” Mr. Radday said. “We have great kids and great families and a community that supports our schools. We are going to count on that same support from our community as we go forward.”

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They need to live within the taxpayers means. Why is this so hard to understand? Let the Board pay the increase out of their own pockets for their mismanagement of the prior year budgets.
By realistic (472), westhampton on Mar 28, 12 2:06 PM
They are spending 30k per student how is that possible, oh yes insane salaries and benefits. This model can no longer be sustained. Educators need to foot the bill more for their healthcare just as the rest of us do. And why are gym teachers making 100k for 9 months work anyway?
By maxwell (169), speonk on Mar 28, 12 2:17 PM
expenditures per student do not include faculty or custodial salaries or benefits
By reality 101 (137), East Hampton on Mar 29, 12 5:37 PM
Why is anyone surprised, it's all about the children????????
By crusader (391), East Quogue on Mar 28, 12 8:37 PM
Yes, Yes, lets continue the utter nonsense of blaming teachers for everything. It's really comical at this point? So many people present teachers as if they are fortune 500 CEOS. If teaching is sooo great and sooo easy why don't you all become teachers yourselves?
By louse pt. (143), springs on Mar 29, 12 6:22 PM
louse pt., I agree completely.
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Mar 29, 12 7:24 PM
There are a lot of teachers looking for jobs ... heaven forbid there are less and we all make do or the ones who are there are "replaced". Watch out, louse point.
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Mar 29, 12 9:59 PM
There are at least 600 teachers on the Suffolk County substitute list. I'm sure there are plenty of qualified subs to fill any un happy teachers spot.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Apr 1, 12 7:46 PM

Looks like it is time for the state to establish a Senior Citizen School Tax Increase Exemption program much like the program for senior renters in NYC. Listening Senator Lavelle and Assemblyman Thiele? It isn't just the children who are affected by these decisions.

By nellie (451), sag harbor on Mar 29, 12 8:46 PM
It's the teachers and the unions . The Unions are pushing for the best deals they can for their members. They appear to have zero concern for what's best for the kids they are teaching. And when you have School Board Members - past and present- who's spouses are teachers why would you not want to push for the union teachers who provide your spouses salary ? it's really that simple. you scratch my back. I scratch yours. Start with the School Board. Look at who's married to who in the District. ...more
By realistic (472), westhampton on Mar 29, 12 9:47 PM
By witch hazel (224), tatooine on Mar 30, 12 10:25 AM
Spot on, it starts with the School Board. When their makeup is comprised of administrators, teachers and relatives the taxpayers don't have a prayer in getting a fair shake.
By crusader (391), East Quogue on Mar 31, 12 5:43 PM
... how 'bout we look to the Feds to assume more of the education burden. How 'bout we pull out of Afghanistan after we defoliate the poppy crop and cut our losses there. We have spent a trillion plus dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan and have left both places in worse shape and lost more of our children there than were killed on 9/11. The money spent would have gone a long way to lessen the local tax levy people are reluctant to pay to fund education. Teachers have masters degrees. Compare the salaries ...more
By William Rodney (561), southampton on Mar 30, 12 10:07 AM
Just the other day, I saw another "VERY RICH" teacher eating at Panera and driving a Prius with 4 DOORS. Wow, how decadent!
By louse pt. (143), springs on Mar 30, 12 6:57 PM
Listen. A great teacher deserves excellent pay. Just like a great CEO deserves excellent pay. But the CEO lives by the results of their work. A teacher does not. They are protected by the Unions. Not required to fund their pensions or medical benefits. The CEO is. The teachers need to earn their keep just like the CEO and the rest of the private sector. The public just cant afford to foot the bill for the excessive benefits anymore. And in this School District the "conflicts of interest" is excessive. ...more
By realistic (472), westhampton on Mar 30, 12 8:48 PM
I guess you do have a conflict of interest there. Concessions do have to be made some times. i just think that this whole bashing teachers thing has gotten way out of hand.
By louse pt. (143), springs on Mar 31, 12 7:50 AM
The counter argument to the CEO defense is that teachers perform a civil service duty that is vital to a community, as do police and fire depts. It has been a long standing reality, that these jobs are rewarded with pensions in return for service to a community.
By louse pt. (143), springs on Mar 31, 12 12:30 PM
Times change. There is a french teacher in the Middle School that shows movies all the time that are not even in french. The administrators know about it but cant do anything. Many kids complain. I've personally complained. Is this the civil service thats vital to the community? I know cops who are retired at 45 yrs old with a full Pension. Some on disability who work out in my gym. Is this a civil service thats vital to the community? Also many companies used to provide a pension and pay full health ...more
By realistic (472), westhampton on Mar 31, 12 3:21 PM
Here is what bothers me. Administration CAN do something. It is just not easy to get rid of a tenured teacher. It involves a lot of work. But don't let them BS you that they can't do anything.
By baywoman (165), southampton on Mar 31, 12 4:11 PM
How about doing away with the 6 figure salaries for SUPERINTENDANTS?! Is that position even neccessary? What do they actually do to EARN their salaries?! Also , have ALL district employees contribute 50% of their health care costs and pension costs. Not quite the real world, but in these tough economic times, close enough.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Apr 1, 12 7:55 AM
Can we stop with "these tough economic times". I know many people, landscapers, and other trade workers who tell me that they are so busy, that they can't keep up with the work. Yes some people are struggling, but the economy here on the East End is better than in most places.
By louse pt. (143), springs on Apr 1, 12 5:10 PM
No person in their right mind would take a job as a superintendent for less than 100k. They run a school district, and you feel that they should make less than 100k? Judging by your comments you appear to oppose anyone in education earning a six figure salary.
By louse pt. (143), springs on Apr 1, 12 5:12 PM
Not everywhere, or everyone in this country had the Fed print billions of dollars to line their pockets. It depends whose teat you suckle at, how well things are for you these days. Out here, most people snag fiat currency straight from the Federal Government's bailout teat.

In 1913, when statistics were begun, a dollar was worth a dollar. After a 2200% rate of inflation, 1 dollar from 1913, is equal to $2,200 dollars in 2012.

If you would like a more relevant comparison, the ...more
Apr 2, 12 3:41 PM appended by Mr. Z
Sorry, my bad: After a 2200% rate of inflation, 1 dollar from 1913, is equal to $22.00 dollars in 2012.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Apr 2, 12 3:41 PM
Administrative consolidation should be the first reform thats done, Superintendents
compensation on LI runs from $250k to over $500K (Syosset) add deputy and other administrative titles (business, etc) and the cost savings are real. Several states have county wide school districts (Maryland) with ONE super.
By bayarea (46), hampton bays on Apr 1, 12 12:14 PM
Remsenburg school has a meeting tomoorrow night April 2 at 7.30pm about the school budget. The school has robocalled all parents to ask them to attend. I would guess the school is about to scare the living daylights out of parents about what "vital" services will have to be cut in order to stay within the tax cap. I hope many taxpayers who do NOT have children in the school will attend so that they won't be subject to what will for sure be an emotional appeal by the school. I hope taxpayers will ...more
By local12 (34), Remsenburg on Apr 1, 12 8:27 PM
@ local12.
Here are some interesting facts:
Remsenburg Speonk District is ranked #4 in NYS by the National Center for Education Statistics, US Dept of Education and NYS Dept of Ed.
Out of 116 Districts listed on Long Island by Newday, Remsenburg teachers rank 109 in average pay. 108 Districts pay their teachers more than RSE.
RSE Teachers have been working for over a year without a contract and they have just agreed to FREEZE their pay for next year!
Thank you, teachers! Not ...more
By littleones (23), Remsenburg on Apr 2, 12 1:37 PM
"Bonitas non est pessimis esse meliorem."
"It is not goodness to be better than the worst."

~ Cicero

Just because they aren't paid as handsomely as their counterparts, doesn't mean they aren't union sponsored ripoff artists.

By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Apr 2, 12 3:19 PM
What all you people who say you need a masters degrees and the job is soo tough lets remember a few things. You get more pay for more credits earned, no other profession has that. You work only 188 days but get a full year's credit towards your pension you medical benefits cost you next to nothing and the most important issue is that our taxes pay your salary, no not mention ceo pay they are NOT paid with my tax dollars. I am not against teachers but I 'm tired of hearing how tough it is. Money ...more
By maxwell (169), speonk on Apr 2, 12 1:47 PM
Teachers are required to continue their education and earn credits for which they must pay so why should they not get extra pay when they meet those requirements? No other profession has that? Nonsense. There are countless professions where your pay is tied to your skills and is raised as your skills increase. Ever heard of raises, promotions?

Teachers are not millionaires. To undervalue educators and resent the pay/benefits of middle class workers is short-sighted at best.

"In ...more
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Apr 2, 12 2:54 PM
1 member liked this comment
“If belief and participation in democracy are sustained by people’s conviction that democracy produces good economic outcomes, then the growing concentration of wealth and income in the United States is a long-term threat to everything we profess to stand for.”

~ Harold Meyersen, "The rich are different; they get richer."
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Apr 2, 12 3:10 PM
1 member liked this comment
And what does it say about a society that does not respect education? And we wonder why the United States ranks so poorly amongst developed nations. And once again, if teaching is such a gravy train, then why don't all of the complainers become teachers. I'm sure they would all then take pay cuts and pension cuts voluntarily. Can we stop this STUPID, YES STUPID, MORONIC idea of presenting teachers as rich people.
By louse pt. (143), springs on Apr 2, 12 3:49 PM
Most of the complaining sounds like nothing more than hate rooted in envy.
By louse pt. (143), springs on Apr 2, 12 3:50 PM
I'm not sure I would call it envy, but most people are not locked into their job after a few years. Most people don't have guaranteed negotiated pay raises. Most people have to contribute, or pay for their benefits. Most people have a 401k they contribute to, not a pension lined for them.

It's not envy, it's the people being tired of being treated far differently than those whose salary they pay. "Golden Parachutes", pay for poor performance, and guaranteed pensions even if you are ...more
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Apr 2, 12 3:57 PM
One note here has anybody been following the BS in the South Couintry School District. The super Joe Cipp who was a gym teacher and football coach for years is hired as the Super at 250k a year and promptly gets in trouble fixing grades and his punishment is a 545k dollar payout to retire. The school boards are totally unqualified to run school districts. The guy esentially breaks the law and is rewarded with a payout and large pension. There is never a way to get rid of anybody without paying ...more
By maxwell (169), speonk on Apr 2, 12 1:53 PM
1 member liked this comment
Remsenburg teachers with the same qualifications make more than their counterparts in nearby schools. That is a fact. The cost of living here is way less than in eg, Garden City, hence no surprise that of 116 districts (and I do not take your comment as fact by any stretch) there are some paid more. Did they agree to freeze their pay or did the BOE kinda force them to? Working with no contract? umm....sounds like the BOE might be doing its job. Any of those teachers who are unhappy with not having ...more
By local12 (34), Remsenburg on Apr 2, 12 4:39 PM
NB. I mentioned BOE in my post; to be clear, I mean the School Board at Remsenburg which seems to have resisted giving into the usual demands.
By local12 (34), Remsenburg on Apr 2, 12 4:43 PM
or Littleones....maybe you're the union rep..
By local12 (34), Remsenburg on Apr 2, 12 4:47 PM
It's not about teacher bashing or not valuing education, it is about accountability,responcibilty and mostly the insane inefficiencies in the school distrists. The board of educations have no background in running anything, negoiating contracts or making business decisions. No one is held accountable for anything. When you can't be fired or demoted there is no reason to do a great job. Most do but you are wasting MY tax dollars.
By maxwell (169), speonk on Apr 4, 12 12:55 PM