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MCEFR Seeks To Curb School Taxes, Keep Kids Safe

Massapequa Committee for Education and Fiscal Responsibility holds meeting.

While the Massapequa Committee for Education and Fiscal Responsibility (MCEFR) is a young organization, it's nonetheless already making its presence felt to residents by addressing major issues they currently have with the Massapequa school district.

At a meeting held on Wednesday at and packed with concerned local residents, Chairman Joe Garbarino said that MCEFR's purpose is to ease the burden taxpayers have been forced to shoulder for far too long.

"Our purpose is to try and make the school more fiscally responsible so that our taxes will be fair...they've just been going up and up the past ten years," he said. "But we also want to keep our quality of education high at the same time."

Part of MCEFR's plan for achieving these goals lie in their attempts to re-shape the Massapequa Board of Education, a process started with the election of MCEFR member Gary Bennett to the school board in this year's district elections.

"In order to implement our plans, we need to change people on the school board," he said. "This year only two of the five members of the board feel as we do; the other three don't support us as well. Next year two members are coming off the school board, so we're going to run two candidates...with any luck, hopefully we'll be controlling the school board next year."

Bennett was the first speaker at the meeting and he made it clear that he was there merely as an active citizen and not a representative of the Massapequa school district.

Bennett's primary concern was the recent busing crisis in the district, brought about by new electronic distance-measuring systems that have rendered over 80 previously eligible families without bus service to and from school. Many of these children are now forced to cross Sunrise Highway on foot to get to school, a dangerous option that Bennett is staunchly against.

With several attempts to make Sunrise Highway a Child Safety Zone failing, Bennett has called upon Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, R-Merrick, for help in getting the kids to school safely.

"I call Senator Fuschillo every few days, and I keep telling him this needs to be addressed," he said. "He assures me that he's on the phone every day...he wants Sunrise Highway to be a Child Safety Zone as much as we do. There's just no reason why kids should have to cross Sunrise Highway."

Bennett also said that while the school district is attempting to tighten their belts, there are ways they could economize even more.

"The school district is finally getting on the right track...we're looking at a lot of ways to save money," he said. "However, in my opinion, we’re going to have to cut back on administrators...I personally believe that we have too many, especially compared to other school districts.”

Other guests included accountant Dianne Sheffield and technology specialist Joseph Marsh, who spoke on school tax control and improving the flow of information from the school district to residents, respectively.

In the upcoming months, MCEFR intends to start holding regular public meetings to continue to address taxpayer concerns and give local citizens a forum to speak. Meeting schedules can be views on MCEFR’s website.

John Rennhack November 20, 2011 at 05:44 AM
1) I'm not ignoring high taxes, I've asked for specifics. Names, salaries, dates, etc. Who is getting paid too much for doing nothing. Explain exactly where the bloat is. Don't paint a broad stroke, give specifics. If it is so well known then it should be easy to point out. If we're following the speculation that something unethical or criminal is going on, that needs to be investigated. 2) Please point to the fiscal irresponsibility of the board and where you find the problems to be and how they can be solved. MSD is required to have a yearly audit and has passed their audits fine. If YOU know something no one else does, please share. 3) Unfunded Mandates. Look at the budgets and find wiggle room to cut. 4) The school board members are also taxpayers and what they do affects their own taxes. Are you suggesting they a purposefully raising their own taxes?
John Rennhack November 20, 2011 at 06:05 AM
The Fire Island News was reporting on an election for Trustee which requires the candidates be primary residents of the community. Are you saying that they are wrong? Are you saying that Gary Bennett was not a candidate for Trustee? Are you saying that he ran for Trustee but was not a primary resident of the community? Where was the truth not being told? No conspiracy, just questions.
Retired Teacher November 21, 2011 at 02:32 PM
John, it's amazing how you want data to prove what others say yet you go on making newspaper reports on Fire Island residency. I can tell you I was at the Bennett residency hearing at which he proved his residency to the ponit of embarrassing the entire board and superintendent.It was a joke that cost tax dollars. After all that data you still deny the truth. You must be a teacher who thinks the gravy train will go on forever. Are you paying attention to charter schools and state support of them? In addition, you were not at the MCEFR meeting at which you question, ridicule and take census.Through all this you still demand spoon fed data. I have seen the data and it is painfully disturbing, you should be thinking how to save teacher jobs and getting our property values up instead of fighting a lost cause. Your hostility is very misplaced in a person who is financially successful and only wants to use his experience to help and in fact has supported programs and teachers thus far. Are you listening to Bennett at the Board meetings or do you make empty conclusions about other meetings you do NOT attend.
John Rennhack November 21, 2011 at 03:24 PM
1) where is this disturbing data? Provide it. 2) you do realize that higher property values means higher tax rate, right? Property values are good. Home sale prices are still higher than they were 10 years ago. 3) yes, I have watched charter schools that routinely force low performing students out. I've watched them NOT provide special needs classes. I've seen the high turn-around of teachers. Meanwhile scores are no better than a comparable public school. 4) I'm not a teacher, I'm concerned about the move to try to educate on the cheap. 5) so Bennett was untruthful when he ran for Trustee and he did not have primary residency there.
John Rennhack November 21, 2011 at 03:26 PM
As a "retired teacher" you should know that it's the unfunded mandates that are causing tax increases.

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