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Layoff Threat in Sachem
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Editorial 2/15/2011
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Layoff Threat in Sachem
presented by Peter Kohler

It didn’t take long for Governor Cuomo’s proposal to cut $1.5 billion in school aid to bring threats of massive teacher layoffs on Long Island.

Last week Sachem, one of Long Island’s largest districts, notified 375 teachers that they could face layoffs. The district had learned it could lose $16 million in state aid.

In Albany, nine Long Island state senators complained that Cuomo’s cuts were unfairly applied to Sachem and other school districts. Cuomo insisted that many Long Island districts could offset cuts with their ample reserve funds, small consolation.

Of course, the senators legitimately insist that Long Island districts fairly share the pain of a shrinking pie, and Cuomo needs to make the case that they are. But as the state cuts school aid–and Cuomo has no other choice–the state must also end state mandates, and reform state laws that tie the hands of school managers.

For too long the discussion of such labor issues as seniority, tenure, and automatic step increases has been politically taboo in Albany. No more.

Because state laws protect teachers with seniority, Sachem had no other choice than to target younger teachers with layoff notices. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is aggressively challenging such seniority rules, saying schools should decide which teachers to layoff, regardless of when they were hired.

Of course, Governor Cuomo is justified in cutting state school aid, given the state’s $10 billion budget deficit. But he also needs to reform state labor laws so school districts can reward teachers based on their performance, not on the skills of labor negotiators.

West Babylon, NY
Cuts in school spending are long overdue. I’m sick of looking at my tax bill and seeing 70 percent going to schools while 59 percent of it goes to teacher salaries. That leaves 11 percent for the school to function. At some point logic must step in and ask what do they mean by the phrase, “It’s for the children.” I can only hope and pray that the schools won’t try to undermine the cuts come time for budget votes which will drive taxes even higher.
Carl Todd
Glen Cove, NY
How did Adam Smith describe the wealth of a nation? He said the nation’s raw materials are #1, #2 is the productive capacity of is manufacturing facilities and #3 is the education level of its population. We are an importer of raw materials, no longer # 1 in #2 (above) and are now 26th in the education level of our population. So what is the first thing we look to cut–our expenditure on education. How does this bode for the future of the USA? Add a cut back on health care and we’ll wind up a sick third world nation and then wonder why and how it happened.
Budget publications, legislation and related media presented by Governor Andrew Cuomo
Feb. 1, 2011
Cablevision missed an opportunity to join in an important regional dialogue about the implementation of a property tax cap that makes sense. Instead, their recent editorial equated the Suffolk County School Superintendents Association’s recommendations for the design of a more sensitive tax cap to advocating for taxpayer torment. Long Island taxpayers have a lot to lose. A flawed cap will lead to a deterioration of public education…
Jan. 18, 2011
Now that Governor Cuomo has become a champion for capping local property taxes, he has apparently enlisted some surprising converts, among them some Long Island school superintendents. But don’t be fooled. When Long Island school superintendents embrace tax caps, it’s only part of a strategy to fill them with holes—loopholes…
Jan. 7, 2011
He called it a time of crisis. In his state of the state message, Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke of the need for radical reform, offering the perspective of crisis transformed into opportunity: “This is a time of crisis for our state,” he said, “a time when we must transform our government to once again become the progressive capital of the nation and to seize the moment of opportunity that is before us…”