Another unfunded mandate
To the editor:
Last month the NYS Assembly and Senate both passed versions of a bill that would mandate that school district Committees on Special Education consider the "home life and family background" of special education students when deciding whether to place their students in a public school setting or underwrite the costs of private school placements.
Superintendents of schools and boards of education have consistently voiced their strong opposition to the onerous burdens already placed upon school districts by the hundreds of unfunded mandates currently in place. To add to that burden by approving this bill is to exemplify why our schools are struggling just to maintain a basic level of programs and services.
The disregard our legislators have shown for the state's school districts, their students and taxpayers by passing this bill is astounding. It appears that the continuing public outcry against unfunded mandates was not sufficient to dissuade our legislators from bowing to the pressure of a very small minority of the public who sponsored this legislation, the basis of which is intended to deliberately segregate special education students from their mainstreamed classmates. As a long-time educator with a special needs family member who was successfully educated in a mainstreamed setting, I can attest to the importance of eligible special needs students being included in a regular education setting with all appropriate supports being provided. I have also taught in such settings as well as administered programs where this was the norm, and know that all students benefit from such programmatic design when it is well-crafted, carefully implemented and properly supervised.
The fact that our society expects its schools to raise their standards of student and staff performance while simultaneously imposing aid cuts, restrictions on tax levy increases and new mandates such as this, that are educationally and sociologically unsound and unproven, is mind-boggling to say the least.
Citizens who are concerned about this latest unfunded mandate are urged to contact Gov. Cuomo, implore him to reject this poorly conceived bill and allow district Committees on Special Education to retain the right to make these decisions where and as they should be made; that is, at the CSE table, without the imposition of artificially derived constraints that benefit no one except the private schools.
The writer is superintendent of the Northville Central School District.
Paying for the primaries
To the editor:
In this day of tight budgets, cuts in funding for so many programs and individuals and agencies struggling to keep their heads above water, I get upset when I see money being spent unnecessarily by our government. I am speaking about the very low turnout at primaries, and the cost to keep each polling site open. At our site alone, with four election officials, who each get a stipend and the stipend given to the center for use of the facility, it costs over $1,200 to run a polling site, not counting paperwork and other costs, such as delivering the machines, etc. Given that my site had only two (2) voters in the June primary, and only four (4) in the April primary, that is roughly $3,000 spent just for one site to service six voters. Now add in all of the other polling sites, and that number becomes very large. With another primary coming up in September, it would seem to me that that money could be put to better use. I realize that it might be confusing at first, but would it not be wiser to consolidate polling sites during the primary elections only, so that some of this money could be used elsewhere? We have at least two other polling sites within one mile of our location.
In addition to the expense, there are four election officials working for at least nine hours, for two voters? Am I the only one who sees that this is just wrong? I think it is small (relatively speaking) expenses such as these that occur time and again, that could add up to huge savings in the long run and more funding for other necessary projects. While we are happy to provide a polling site for elections, I, as a taxpayer, am bothered by this kind of spending. I am sure this is only one small example of where our tax dollars could be put to better use.
The writer is executive director of the Horace J. Inman Senior Center, Amsterdam.