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Letters to the Editor for April 2

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Extracurricular frills are what’s driving up public school costs On March 21, Niskayuna held a public forum on the budget. In his presentation, the superintendent stated there is a revenue shortfall. Taxpayers will no doubt have a higher school tax bill. When will it stop? When will they say they have enough? Our goals for public education have undergone a metamorphosis in less than 20 years. Rather than excellence in academics, our public schools now ...

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April 2, 2011
9:01 a.m.

[ Flag Post ]

Carol McKechnie and other Nisky school tax payers:
Did you know that Superintendent Baughman's salary for 2010-11 was in excess of $218,000? Of the 19 administrator salaries I have looked at so far, 13 of them exceed $100k. The others are all in the $90ks. These salaries, as reported by the comptroller, do NOT include benefits. 17 of these 19 received a minimum 9% pay raise from the 2009-10 school year with Baughman at 11% and Lynne Rutnik at 27%. Again, this does NOT include benefits. Carol, I love your ideas about raising more revenue. However, I think we should also focus on cutting expenses. Cutting positions at the top would be a good place to start.

April 2, 2011
3:57 p.m.

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I agree with patricca, that cuts should start at the top. It's time for the superintendents to prove they really have the best interests of the students and taxpayers in mind.

However, Richard Mincher is incorrect in his initial sentence. School districts have NOT worked diligently at cutting expenses. Every defeated budget includes spending increases beyond mandates, and each is viewed as a crushing defeat.

The worst thing of all is that our kids are pawns, and being held hostage for political interests. Proposed spending reductions are met with the cry "you're hurting the children!". That makes parents worry and they vote to pass irresponsible budgets. My impression has always been that teachers, staff and school boards were in place to educate children - not to spend money. Obviously, there are overhead costs, like teachers' step raises, under-funded pension plans because the money was gambled away in the stock market, and, oh yes, building maintenance, teaching supplies, etc. We're still paying off major expansions from recent years, when nobody thought to plan for economic downturns. Depending on state aid, as if it were some magic, endless fountain. Oops! But keep spending or we'll hurt the children!

There are 3 major culprits for the schools' plight. Unions, making unrealistic demands and never making concessions; school boards, negotiating union contracts in bad faith to the taxpayers and spending money like it isn't their own; and the voters, for letting the first 2 get away with it all. Districts need to spend less, highly paid executives need to give up some (at least temporarily), ditto for teachers, and voters have to say NO! Keeps saying no and keep changing the school board members. Doing it once is not enough - this is OUR money, and OUR kids and WE have take control. That's what all of us grown-ups learned when we were students, remember? In our representative form of government, voters have the ultimate power to shape the future, but only if we exercise it. The economic problems are going away any time soon, no matter what political stooges tell us.

April 2, 2011
7:38 p.m.

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Oh, Newsworthy. You are so very, very correct. If you read the newsletter published by the school district right before each budget vote, it contains veiled threats of the potential harm to children if the budget is voted down. It is all political rhetoric, as you said, meant to scare all of us or guilt us into doing what is "right" for our children. Really, we are just doing what is right for them. I will vote no on the budget. I just don't know if there are enough people like you and me to have a meaningful impact on the process!

April 4, 2011
12:37 p.m.

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"Mansion Square" - so that's what they call that once-beautiful spot that such an eyesore on Balltown Road?

I don't think I will ever shop there, regardless the tenants, but do agree with Ms. Tepper that the layout should be like Stuyvesant Plaza - a "U" shape that allows shoppers to walk between shops, with some parking on the outside of the "U" - especially for pickup of larger items.

I feel it almost a sin to have to drive between stores at Mohawk Commons because of the pedestrian-unfriendly design. In fact the only good design is the strip in front of Target with a sidewalk on it - extending towards Marshalls.

Even big-box malls need sidewalks. Not lanes painted on blacktop, but raised sidewalks.