WHB School District Responds...

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

WHB School District Responds...

A call this morning to Westhampton Beach "Union Free" School District Clerk Judy McCarthy... who commendably answers her own 'phone at extension 241... led to:

  1. Her interesting assertion that the School District had "nothing to do with the Westhampton Free Library vote;"
  2. A return call from Superintendent Lynn Schwartz who, at first blush, seems to be a reasonably forthright individual.

Between the conversation with the Superin­tendent and some additional poking around, it was learned that:

  • It never occurred to anyone on the Board of Education or in the School District Office that an "informational meeting" might have been held for a fuller discussion, including public input, of how to handle that $800,000 surplus;
  • The School District is mandated by State law to hold this referendum within 45 days of the September 17th BoE meeting... which by my calendar makes November 8th something like six-to-eight days past the deadline;
  • The BoE intends that "new" use of the $800,000 surplus would primary be to construction a new, more central office for the Superintendent on the grounds of the Middle School... although inquir­ies reveal that Mr. Schwartz considers his present location in a built-up tem­porary structure to be suitable for the District's purposes;
  • Even if the District's taxpayers reject the "Reauthorization of Existing Funds" next week, the BoE could still find other uses for that $800,000 surplus rather than return it to the taxpayers!

Okay, so how much money are we talking about here? According to Superintendent Schwartz:

"Between $80 and $100 per average family, and we've been using $700,000 as the average assessed valuation."

The view here is that the timing (a Thursday in November two days after the General Election) of the referendum and the virtual "information blackout" by the Board of Education until the eleventh hour, has been a deliberate attempt to manipulate the outcome of the vote... which attempt will probably succeed.

But if the BoE's Clint Greenbaum accesses School District records to notice parents by E-mail in an effort to influence the vote, his actions should probably be referred to the proper authorities in Albany for investigation.

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