WHB Board of Ed hasn't come clean

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

WHB Board of Ed hasn't come clean

The 'No Tax Impact' graphic is purposefully misleading!

Bad Board of Ed!

Berry berry bad!

The Westhampton Beach "Union Free" School District, as just about everyone in the District should know from the mailing made this week, has a "Special Referendum" scheduled for Thursday, November 8th.

(Thursday, November 8th? Next week? Two days following the General Election? Who picked that day and date, and most importantly, why? Whoever heard of an ballot being held on a Thursday?!?)

If you read the "Special Referendum" notice, it makes it sound as if they're simply requesting voter permis­sion to use $800,000 which has already been levied for "parking expansion" but which it now turns out to have not needed to be spent... i.e., is now surplus... and transfer the money into another project, the "Middle School Upgrade," the costs of which were bad­ly miscalculated when the District went to bond for $30.8 million in 2003.

Now one can read, and re-read, the mailed notification as many times as one wants, and no where will be found any dollar amount other that the $800,000 for which the District needs voter authorization to take out of one "pocket" and put into another.

The missing figures are what, if the authoriza­tion is not forthcoming on November 8th, would be returned, on average, to each tax­payer in the District.

No big whup?

Well, earlier this month when the District ran the Westhampton Beach Free Library's $7.8 million (actually $7,827,820) bond referen­dum, it was care­fully presented as what it would cost the average homeowner with an assessed valuation of $800,000. Why has this sort of information been carefully omitted from the mailed notification... and why isn't there any information, even the date and times of the balloting, on the School's Website?

The Board of Education is inferentially making the argument that this is money we've all already spent, and they're just applying to a project which needs it from a project which had it left over!

But how critical is the need of that "Middle School Health & Fitness Center?" And what would a return of that money to the taxpayers mean, especially for those of use who'd kinda like to get some money back once in a great while!

And what is the present reality of those class­room/stu­dent/teacher projections from four and five years ago?

It's apparent that the Board of Education doesn't want any of these matters discussed... no public meeting held prior to the vote, an "eleventh hour" mailing of only partial infor­mation, and an oddball date for the referen­dum itself.

When the vote was held on the Library expan­sion, there was a great deal of prior notification and information forthcoming, and from the very beginning, no one I knew was in favor of incurring another $7,827,820 of bonded in­debtedness. Yet when the vote was held on October 2nd, the turn-out was relatively light (more people from a smaller area had showed up to pass the Westhampton Beach bond referendum for the Six Corners municipal pro­ject!) and the Library project passed by a 4-3 margin.

I'd received a couple of 'phone calls early that evening saying that the callers had just voted and there were a lot of young couples with kids in tow casting their ballots at the same time.

Curious as to how the Library had turned this referendum around, I learned the next day that a district resident, Clint Greenbaum, had made a "mass E-mailing" to a whole bunch of families of school-age children urging passage of the bond.

Damned clever! Very 21st Century!

But wait! Clint Greenbaum is on the West­hampton Beach Board of Education, and either he's a far-sighted collector of local E-dresses, or was it that he had access to the School District's database of parents' Internet contact information?

Either way, will Mr. Greenbaum be firing up his computer again next week in an effort to as­sure re-authorization of the $800,000 in "on-hand funding?"

There are a whole lot of questions which should be asked of the Westhampton Beach Board of Education, but, by careful design it seems, there's no time in which to do it!

O, and that "No Tax Impact" graphic prom­inently displayed on both sides of this week's mailing piece? That's not quite accurate... if the $800,000 surplus were turned back, there would be a positive impact to the taxpayers... and wouldn't that be nice!?!

Bad Board of Ed! Berry berry bad!


1. Matlynn Carville said...

Or it could be used to pay off debt on one of the multiple bonds we approved, and reduce the amount this little area owes. Think of it!! Paying down one of our loans. What a concept!

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