Community Voices: The Resident Who Will Vote 'No'

A West Hempstead senior and 34-year-resident discusses why she will be voting down the school budget.

To our Friends and Neighbors in West Hempstead,

 As the May 17 school budget vote approaches, we are once again presented with a $54,397,183.00 budget ($ 1,500,000 higher than last year ) and asked to support it.

Looking back at the year that passed, we cannot help but realize that our economy has not recovered from the recession. Homes are being foreclosed or are sold in short sales, remain empty,  or are  being rented to multiple tenants.

The small businesses, the "backbone of our economy,"  crushed by the ever rising taxes and faltering economy, are closing.

Our seniors, who have not received any COLA increase in their benefits in the last two years, are feeling the effects  of  this recession even more.

As for our young college graduates and professionals, they are struggling to find permanent jobs with benefits.

Yet, we have heard at school meetings some people advocate more spending for "the children, the future of America,” more education spending to "maintain the value of our homes" and the ever shameful comment "if you cannot afford it, move out of West Hempstead."

Our financial situation is not going to improve in the next few years.  Albany is broke.

The Auditor's Report available on the West  Hempstead School District Web site, indicates our contribution to the Teachers Retirement Plan increased 39 percent this year, and the contribution to the NYS Employee Retirement Plan (other staff) increased 60 percent.  The auditor states  “these are trends expected to continue.” 

This means WE WILL BE ASKED TO PAY EVEN MORE in the years ahead. Now is the time to all come together and decide our priorities, chart the future of our community and the future of our children, even if that means we have to deal with difficult and painful choices.

Americans have always taken pride in being compassionate, just and honorable.

The best education for our students, the future of our country, might be the one they will learn outside the classroom, facing the realities of life, striving for ideals, learning that present day sacrifice means:

- Honoring the seniors of our community who sacrificed when they were young so that we can enjoy our freedoms of today.

-Respecting the needs and challenges faced by the small businesses, the backbone of our economy, thus strengthening future employment prospects

-Understanding the hardships faced by many of their fellow citizens who have given them a community to be proud of.

Teachers and administrators, who owe their livelihood to the community that employs them, should understand that we do appreciate what they do for our children and respect their professionalism, but we can afford only so much.

If we are to get through these tough economic times, they must also share in the sacrifice by demanding less and giving more. In doing so, we can maintain the younger generation of teachers in our community, and our students will continue to receive the education they deserve.

Our school board members are our neighbors and friends and they tirelessly give their time to serve their community. We thank them for their contributions ,we urge them to resist the pressures put upon them by special interest groups and consider the community as a whole, now and in the years ahead.

It is with a heavy heart that I will vote  ‘No’ this year to the proposed increased budget.


Lilly Haliasos

Lilly Haliasos is a 34-year-resident of West Hempstead.

Editor's Note: This opinion piece is part of Patch is also interested in your viewpoint as well. Please send your opinion to Tara.Conry@Patch.com. For an overview of the school budgets proposed for the Malverne and West Hempstead school districts 

Concerned resident May 16, 2011 at 02:53 AM
NEWSDAY SUMMARY INDICATES HIGH INCREASE IN TAXES AGAIN! After reading Newsday today, we will vote - NO. I read the review of our District's budget in Newsday this morning and was shocked. It indicated that we would possibly experience a tax increase of nearly 5%. In addition, it seems they left the door completely open for an even HIGHER increase; they said they weren't sure. It's time for the District to stop blowing smoke in our face and provide us with the real figures. In this economy, an INCREASE this high is SCARY and unaffordable to those of us to keep food on our tables.
Kathy Andree May 16, 2011 at 03:20 AM
A no vote does not mean no tax increase. Your taxes will go up higher if we go to a contingency budget! VOTE YES so the students in our community know we stand behind them!
Jonathan Ezor May 16, 2011 at 03:38 AM
Per Newsday (http://www.newsday.com/news/west-hempstead-school-district-1.2862111?p=), the proposed budget increase from last year's very austere budget is only 2.85%, hardly an extravagant rise; how many of us have kept our household budget increases from last year that low? For that matter, the increase in school tax for the "average 1-family house" is predicted to be just under $300; that is, less than $6 per week more. Those in lower-valued and smaller homes will pay less. And again, whatever the vote, there will be a roughly comparable school tax bill. If one does not feel that it is worth an extra $5-6/week to preserve one of the major institutions that itself preserves the character and quality of our town, I wonder how much one values the town. {Jonathan}
Barbara Keilty-Michaleski May 16, 2011 at 03:46 AM
Please be accurate with budget information. The school budget monies is not used solely for the approximately 2200 public school students. School budget monies pay for the additional 1000+ students who reside in West Hempstead but attend private and parochial schools. School budget monies provide busing ( I believe stated by Mr. Cunningham, to about 130 private and parochial schools). Additionally, from the budget, monies are provided to those private and parochial students for books, health services, special ed. services, psychological services, speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and any other services deemed necessary to those who do not attend the public schools. We also pay for charter school students' tuitions, in full, through school budget monies. Therefore, stating that the budget only provides for 2200 students is quite inaccurate. Voting no on a school budget does only affect the public school students and well as the value of our homes. All of the above mentioned provided to private and parochial students are Not affected. State mandates guarantee those services to private and parochial school students always! Vote 'yes' for mantaining a sound educational system in our community! Barbara Keilty
Kathy Andree May 17, 2011 at 02:07 AM
I do wonder, Mrs. Haliasos, how residents who can afford to mail copies of this letter to other residents in WH, make enough copies to leave them in businesses all around town and make up signs that say vote no, can't seem to afford to keep our schools running well enough to give our children the education they deserve. If we stopped wasting time and resourses on the negative, we can well afford the positive and support our schools!!!!!


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