Monday, March 31, 2008

ANSWERS SOUGHT RE: BUDGET, TAX RATE, REPAIRS, SURPLUS

Anonymous said...
The FAIR money, if it comes thru in time, should be used to FURTHER reduce the tax rate. This can happen if someone will take on the task of explaining the budget to Roger B! 3/30/2008 1:53 PM

Anonymous said...
If the money is there in August, it should be used to FURTHER reduce the tax rate. Does Roger B know the law in this regard? 3/31/2008 9:20 AM
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From George Hubbard:


BOE PRIORITY ON FACILITY MAINTENANCE: WHY HIGH IN DECEMBER... NOW LOW IN MARCH?

1. Last December before EXCEL vote... public was told facility needs (maintenance, repairs, updating etc) were serious... backlog grew $64M in 8 yrs - $8M/yr on average... BOE said this was HIGH PRIORITY.
2. Voters spoke overwhelmingly in December... student facilities should be maintained!
3. Now March, new budget $194.1M – up $14.7M (+8.2%) from actual spending this year... shows only $1.8M for CAPITAL repair (pg 39)... less than half of $3.9M budgeted just two years ago... BOE not keeping up.
4. Yet new budget shows $4M budgeted for planned SURPLUS next year.

Q#1 To BOE: “Are voters told if budget for capital maintenance/repair is balanced with growing needs?” And, “If not, then why not?”
Q#2 To BOE: “Are voters told why budget is more for SURPLUS ($4M) than for CAPITAL maintenance ($1.8M)?”

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Regular BOE Meeting Tuesday @6:30

The Board will go into an Exec. Session at 5:30 pm to discuss the Supt's Goals & Collective Bargaining parameters

Task Force on School Safety - recommendations for Code of Conduct Amendments
Transportation Committee
Finance Committee
Communication Committee
Adoption of Budget
Adoption of the Property Tax Report Card
Approval of RFP - Attorneys for 2008-2009 School Year


POLICY
2nd READS ~~
Eligibility for Participation in Interscholastic Athletics (W/A)
Security Breach (W/A)

1st Reads ~~
Equal Educational Opportunities (W/I)
Appointment and Training of Committee on Special Education (CSE) SubCommittee on Special Education Members
Appointment and Training of Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) Members
Student Individualized Education Program (IEP): Development and Provision
Impartial Due Process Hearings/Selection of Impartial Hearing Officers

Update on Social Promotion - Mr. Achramovitch

Friday, March 28, 2008

Thursday, March 27, 2008

April Fool's Day Meeting To Discuss FAIR Plan Situation

Nearly $7 Million Is At Stake ...

"District officials say they built Greece's proposed $194,075,636 spending plan for 2008-09 without counting on the nearly $7 million in sales tax revenue it would have lost to the county over the next two years." ~~ MPNNow

(They Couldn't Have Selected A More Appropriate Meeting Date!)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

BOE MAY LOWER BUDGET BY $1 MILLION

Voters Would Get Budget Plan With
NO TAX INCREASE!!

"People are tax weary. I think this proposal is a home run." ~~ Frank Oberg, BOE

D&C STORY

Camarata: Schwab Demanded $2 Million Donation To Town of Greece


Refused To Lower Kodak Assessment Otherwise
Greece used the donation to help pay for its new senior & community center on the Town Hall campus on Long Pond Road. The donation was approved at a meeting of top Kodak officials.

D&C STORY

WHAT DID MR. AUBERGER KNOW?
WHEN DID HE KNOW IT?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Petition For Public Access TV

We've been asked to provide the link to permit folks to sign the following petition. After some thought, we've decided to post this as it may be of interest to some of our readers. This by no means should be construed as an endorsement by us.

"We, the undersigned, call on the Town Governments of Greece, Gates, Chili, Parma, Hilton, and Ogden to commit to and contractually agree to continue to allow Educable, who has provided quality broadcasting to our community for over 25 years, to continue to provide Public Access Television (PEG) to our communities.
We further request that the services that have been provided to us, for which our franchise fees were paid and allocated for such funding, be provided to Educable for the unpaid period that they have continued to provide services to the community in the true spirit of Public Access with no renumeration for their services.
We additionally request a full accounting of the allocation of the franchise fees that have been paid to each town named herein by Time-Warner Cable, including any contractual obligations or purchases these franchise fees have been used to offset.
Keep Public Access Television where it belongs - in the care, custody and control of the PUBLIC."

LINK

Sunday, March 23, 2008

What Traits Should BOE Candidates Possess?

1 - Honesty/Integrity/Trustworthiness/Independence From Political "Ties"
2 - Creative Problem-Solving Ability
3 - Knowledge of BOE's Duties, Roles & Limitations
4 - Communicates Ideas Effectively
5 - Listens With An Open Mind & Closed Mouth
6 - Ability To Endure Even When Singled Out
7 - Ability To Lead/Be A Role Model
8 - Ability To Inspire Students, Staff & Community
9 - Acts Responsibly, Morally & Ethically/Abides By Policies, Rules, Laws
10 - Visibility In the Schools To Know First Hand What Is Really Going On
11 - Ability To Learn & Grow
12 - Possesses A Sense Of Humor (Perhaps the MOST important talent of all!!)


List gleaned from comments posted on this BLOG, rhetoric at BOE meetings and a bit of research using our good friend Google :)

Greece Troubles Are Exception, Not The Rule In Audits

Other Local District Audits Uncover An Array Of Fairly Minor Woes

"The purpose of school audits is to offer recommendations to schools on how they can improve their practices to protect school property and taxpayer dollars from fraud, waste and abuse. Auditors review the school districts' internal controls and make recommendations on how internal controls can be strengthened." ~~ Emily DeSantis, Comptroller's Office spokesperson

D&C STORY

Special Meeting & Public Hearing Tuesday

It is anticipated that the Board will go into an Exec. Session @ 5:30 pm to discuss the Supt's evaluation goals & document.
Public Hearing - Change in Bus Stop Distances - 6:30 pm, Sign-up begins at 6:00 pm outside of Board Room

Agenda Items
Reading Recovery Presentation
Approval of RFP - Attorneys for 2008-09 School Year
Budget Discussion
Board Oath for Budge No Vote
- Mr. Hubbard
Second Read of Change to Policy 6431 Employee Contracts and Addendums - Mr. Hubbard

Saturday, March 22, 2008

FAIR Plan Ruling To Be Appealed

How Will Court's Decision Impact Greece Central's Budget Planning For 2008-09?

Story

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Where Are The 2007 Graduation Rates, Goals For GCSD?

Anonymous said...
JM
Actually I have made a couple of presentations to the BOE on test results, graduation rates and making academic achievement the number one priority of the BOE.

What has been the result of this effort on my part and others? I am sorry to report basically nothing.

As of this date, the first day of Spring March 20th 2008, the Supt. and/or the BOE has not published the June 2007 graduation rates for the Greece community, even though they are available. I don't understand this delay.

The same individual is still the supervisor and in charge of the failed math program for the last 8 eight years. I do not understand how this man keeps his job.

After a couple of poor instructional presentations last fall nothing instructional has been discussed since that time. I do not understand the lack of BOE instructional reviews.

The BOE created 2007-2008 goals. Well sort of goals. They are not measurable. They are paragraphs of statements. They were written without knowing the instructional results from last year so I really do not understand how you can write goals for the next year without knowing where you were last year.

The BOE is so much into the politics of the two factions that nothing instructional is accomplished. I once had the opinion that talking to the BOE would make a difference. I no longer share that view.

Sincerely yours,
Doug Skeet 3/20/2008 1:10 PM

SCHOOL VIOLENCE CONTINUES

WHO WILL ANSWER THE PLEA FOR HELP??

Anonymous said...
Another fight at Athena today. and witnessed by my student. This is an outrage. This time my student went to get help from the unit office-two workers ran out and stopped to get security only after my student told them NO>>> you don't understand he has a hammer and hit the kid.

Later in the day a well respected teacher was viewed by a group of different students screaming at an administrator)-yup the principal) that she had been telling him over and over that this was going on and he was ignoring her and she was fed up and going to the union.

Several parents are discussing how many calls they made to the school today to see if their children were ok and all departments answering machines were on or they were disconnected-how convenient. And the board wants to remove cellphones? Students had to give statements to the police and... you got it are afraid to go to school tomorrow because they have been threatened.

Why are parents not being informed about these incidents. Why is the Principal Synder turning a blind eye-someone is going to get killed or permanently hurt!!

Scats help the good students please!!! 3/19/2008 6:40 PM

Anonymous said...
please see response under Olympia readers:

Thank God my student has a cell phone-we had to text each other to day to make sure that they were ok. You see my student witnessed an attack and was asked to make a statement today in the hallway at athena. This time the kid hit another with a hammer. Parents tried to call all day long and no one responded at all.

Without my students ability to speak to me today I would have been worried and the student stressed. My Point- So lets let out students kill each other with weapons but make sure they are taking off their hats and not using cellphones-Synder told my other student to take off the ipod ear phones at lunch-probably because the student was receiving terrorist messages or something.

Not a joke but Synder as principal is non existent and the security for this blood bashing was two unit office secrataries. NICE for 8 grand a year in taxes now don't ya think? 3/19/2008 6:48 PM

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

GCSD Posts Budget Link

Supt's. Proposed Budget Book

From Geo Hubbard ...

TWO BOE BUDGET COMMITTEES... SEND MIXED MESSAGES... REPORT DIRECTLY TO SUPERINTENDENT... NO BOE REVIEW OR APPROVAL!

1. BOE has two budget related committees – Transportation Committee, and Finance Committee.

2. Next year’s budget currently stands at $195.1M - up $15.7M (+8.75%) from spending this year.

3. BOE Transportation committee recommends BUDGET DECREASE – cut $0.8M next year... Superintendent already baked DECREASE into proposed budget... unbaked budget was higher - $195.9M.

4. BOE has projected fund balance SURPLUS - $12.5M at end of this school year (2007-08).

5. BOE Finance committee recommends BUDGET INCREASE to generate $5M surplus next year... Superintendent already baked INCREASE into proposed budget... unbaked budget was lower - $190.1M.

Q#1: What is BOE position on next year’s budget – up or down?
Q#2: Are mixed messages from BOE confusing to voters?

Olympia Fight Aftermath ...

One Student Arrested, 10-12 Involved
MPNNow

Supt. & Security Head Stated At BOE Meeting That THREE Teachers Were Injured, None Willing To Press Charges

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

WHO IS ADDRESSING VIOLENCE IN OUR SCHOOLS?

Fight at Greece School; Teacher Hurt
Last Update: 4:16 pm
Greece, N.Y.) - Police say one student was arrested and a dozen others were suspended after a fight broke out on school grounds at Olympia High School last week.

The Monday fight involved several students. Police said it started last weekend at Holyoke Apartments in Greece and carried over into school.

Of the two teachers who tried to break it up, one was injured.

13WHAM.com

Anonymous said...
There was a fight at Athena yesterday as well. The story told to me was that the blood was all over the floor and that the young woman who started it told everyone for days she was going to beat this girl up. The girl who was hurt is said to be a very quiet kind girl who just plain
"asked for it". BTW the girl who we think did it is the sister of the kid who burned his house down when the parents were out of town.

The principal-shut the hallway down but only after the poor bleeding girl was down on the floor being kicked and told to get up.

Now there's assets for ya!
3/18/2008 6:52 AM

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Special Meeting Tuesday @ 6:30pm

Agenda Items Include:
Physical Education and Wellness Presentation
Family Support Center Presentation
2008-09 Budget Discussion
Architectural Firm Approval
5.02 Cable Channel 12

First Read of Change to Policy 6431 Employee Contracts and Addendums

Board Pledge for Budget No Vote - Mr. Hubbard:
"In an effort to increase meaningfull voter participation and to increase respect for Board members as elected representitives of the community, I offer the following resolution.RESOLVED; The Greece School Board pledges from this day forward to the taxpayers of the Greece Central School District that an increase to the TAX LEVY over the prior years TAX LEVY will only happen when the budget presented to the voters is APPROVED by the voters."

STILL NO BUDGET BOOK LINK ON GCSD WEBSITE :(

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Rants 'n Raves About Clarkstown's New "Culture"

Article Gives Glowing Review To Meg, But Comments Are Mostly Negative ... Is History Repeating Itself In Clarkstown?

"Study after study has found that the single most significant factor that influences student achievement is the quality of the classroom teacher, and that goes across all demographics. So where you find successful students, the research would verify you've got great teachers." ~~ Meg K-C

LoHud.com

Friday, March 14, 2008

Project Sunlight Lets You Track Campaign $$$, Get An Eyeful !!


Many thanks to the reader who shared with us information about the Project Sunlight website linked through the NY State Attorney General's Office.

Since this is a big election year nationally, we thought it might be interesting to let everyone know that now you can see who various local businesses, organizations and individuals support with campaign donations.

Check out groups and businesses like:
Greece Chamber of Commerce, Greece Rotary, LeChase Construction, Christa Construction, The Mall at Greece Ridge Center, Rockcastle Florist, Greece Thunder Hockey, Greece Olympia Class of 2006 & 2007

(Why the heck are our high schools and sports teams donating funds to political campaigns??)


Search individuals by name:
Reilich, Robach, Auberger, Boily and others to see who they supported or who supported them.

Share with us any interesting discoveries you've made! Our most interesting search was to pull up all records with the term "Greece" ... try it. You'll be amazed!!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Have you heard?

Anonymous said...
Anyone know anything about a major fight at Olympia High School? One teacher has been hospitalized. No news - COVER-UP!?! 3/13/2008 5:58 PM

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Just Follow the Bouncing Ball ...

‘PING PONG’ BUDGETING

Does BOE play ‘PING PONG’ with voters on school budgets?
Follow the bouncing ball... draw your own conclusions!


LAST YEAR (2006-07)
‘PING’: $179.9M – BOE approved spending.
‘PONG’: $173.7M – Actual spending
THIS YEAR
‘PING’: $187.7M – BOE approved.
‘PONG’: $179.4M – Actual
NEXT YEAR
‘PING’: $195.1M – BOE pending... up $15.7M (+8.75%).

So, what’s the ‘PING PONG’ score?
Year-end June 2008 FUND BALANCE = $12.4M... resulting from SURPLUSES (spending plus revenue)!

Q#1: Do voters like playing BUDGET ‘PING PONG’ with BOE... and SURPLUSES that grow without justification?

Q#2: Do businesses like paying (unused) taxes in advance... where they bear a cost of capital, but BOE does not?

Submitted by: George Hubbard

New Budget Plan Tops $195 Million

Includes:
$2.5 million for new buses
$200,000 for communications system
Adds 25 new positions, but cuts 18 others

1.67% tax rate increase
1.97% tax rate increase

Surplus From 2007-08 Budget:
$7,000,000 !!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

VanOrman Demonstrates Need For Remedial BOE Member Training

Before the EXCEL vote, she unlawfully urged voters to get out and vote "yes" on the proposition. Last month, she suggested that GCSD issue a redacted version of the Berry Report. Now, "she's been advised by attorneys that releasing the report could jeopardize the district's defense against Donlon." (D&C Berry Report)

SCATS suggests ~~
Julia, please engage brain before opening mouth tonight :)

Is District Office Leaking Information To The D&C?

First it was the draft audit report from the Comptroller's Office. Now it's the apparent response to that report. We're wondering:
Who made this latest "mistake?"

"When contacted about information mistakenly sent last week to the newspaper — which is apparently a draft version of the district's response to the draft audit — Achramovitch refused comment and demanded that the Democrat and Chronicle return the confidential internal document." ~~ D&C

"According to information inadvertently sent to the Democrat and Chronicle last week about the district’s response to that audit, the district alleges excess costs and shoddy workmanship in the $119.5 million building project were caused by the district’s architectural firm, Ithaca-based Tetra Tech Engineers, Architects and Landscape Architects." ~~ D&C

Monday, March 10, 2008

GCSD Suing Architect For "Professional Negligence"

Tetra Tech/Thomas Assoc Blamed For Cost Overruns, Shoddy Work In Document "Inadvertently" Provided to D&C

Achramovitch To Present $195,975,636* Spending Plan To BOE

"What we're going to do is just illustrate where we currently are, how we got to our projected figures and why we're projecting those figures. Currently we have a proposed tax rate that's going to be under 2 percent so we are trying as hard as possible to have the least impact on taxpayers." ~~ Achramovitch
Budget To Budget Increase Is 4% With 2% Tax Hike Projected

MPNNow

*George Hubbard contends the actual budget amount taken from the Supt's budget is: $195,075,636

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Auberger, DiRaddo To Testify At Kodak Kickback Trial

Trial Begins Monday!

"In addition to witnesses from Kodak and other companies named as victims, jurors are expected to hear from Greece Supervisor John T. Auberger, who will testify about the town's oversight of its assessor, and two lawyers — including Greece Town Attorney Raymond DiRaddo — whose private law firms incorporated businesses the defendants are accused of using to hide their assets."

D&C STORY

Friday, March 07, 2008

Document Responds To Audit Of GCSD

"The Board of Education is committed to developing a comprehensive corrective action plan to address the issues cited in the Comptroller’s Report of Examination. Subsequent to our response, the Board of Education will work diligently to develop this plan and be much more specific on the actions we will take. We wanted to take this opportunity to respond to the recommendations made in the Comptroller’s Report. This should be considered an outline of the corrective action plan that the Board of Education will submit to the State in the timeframe specified in the Report."


DOCUMENT

Tuesday BOE Meeting Has Action Packed Agenda!

It is anticipated that the Board will go into Exec. Session @ 5 pm to discuss Collective Negotiations Updates, Employment History of a Particular Person, Pending Negotiations of a Contract
Regular Meeting Begins @6:30pm

*** Agenda Items of Note ***
Supt's Budget Presentation
Dueling Berry Report Discussions -VanOrman & Moscato


Committee Reports ~~
Communications; Finance; Transportation; Internal Claims Auditor Report
Supt. Reports
Physical Education, Health & Wellness/Food Service Presentation
AYP Update Comprehensive Educational Plans
Policy
First Read Policy 7421 Eligibility for Participation in Interscholastic Athletics
First Read Policy 5672 Security Breach
Second Read Policy 7619 Use of Time Out Rooms
Second Read Policy 8268 NCLB Written Complaint & Appeals Procedures
2008 - 09 School Calendar
Old Business
Update on Social Promotion - Mr. Achramovitch
Cable Channel 12 Discussion - Mr. Moscato

New Mall Security Rules Effective March 28th

Security guards to check ID of anyone who looks younger than 19

Story & Policy

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Article Examines Two Faces Of Kodak Park - NY's Biggest Producer Of Toxic Emissions

This article left us wondering ~~ When Parents Opt For Odyssey Academy, Has Its Proximity To Kodak Park Impacted Health Of Attendees and Staff, Past & Present?

MPNNow

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Assessor Trial Begins Monday

David Finnman, John Nicolo & Constance Roeder Still Await Day In Court
“Any time a public official violates the public trust they must be brought to justice.” ~~ John Auberger, Supervisor

MPNNow

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

PWCS Parents Create "Teach Math Right" Website

"This site was formed by PW parents in response to PWCS's mandatory 2006 implementation of the school mathematics curriculum "TERC - Investigations in Number, Data, and Space" in all PWCS elementary schools. Traditional, proven, successful mathematics instruction was taken away from our children and replaced with a "fuzzy math" program that has failed across the country and left children years behind their peers. We think our children and our tax dollars deserve better."

pwcteachmathright

Academics Tops List Of Challenges In Poll


Meeting Academic Standards/Test Scores ~~ 15 (34%)
Holding Teachers Accountable ~~ 6 (13%)
Regaining Community Trust ~~ 6 (13%)
Addressing The Comptroller's Audit ~~
6 (13%)

Raising Graduation Rates ~~ 2 (4%)

One-third of SCATS' recent poll respondents say raising academic standards/test scores is the biggest challenge facing the Greece Central School District. Another 4% cited the need to increase graduation rates and 13% felt that holding teacher's accountable was the greatest challenge. Overall, academic performance in general (teaching, test scores and graduation rates) appears to be the area of greatest concern, despite a distant 3-way tie for second place which included: holding teacher's accountable; regaining community trust; and addressing the Comptroller's report.

Interestingly, repairing & maintaining buildings & grounds received no votes at all. Maybe that's because people feel that issue is going to be addressed due to passage of the recent EXCEL bond. However, other financial areas like "keeping tax rates low" and "building a budget supported by residents" received low rankings in our non-scientific poll too.

Since there was a three-way tie for the second most important challenge, we're going to re-poll readers on the top four items plus graduation rates (since it is related to academics) to see how/if the results change.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

If Schwab Is Guilty, How Does Greece Qualify For Award?

Page 5 of the recent Town Newsletter says that Greece has been recognized by the New York State Office of Real Property Services with an Excellence in Equity Award and received special recognition for qualifying for this award for six years since the program's inception in 1999.

Since Schwab was our assessor until 2004, how could we meet the criteria to receive such an award?
According to the document in the link, Greece will receive grant money based on the Schwab years, too.

Mr. Auberger, HOW are we able to qualify for this award??
(Something smells rotten here ... )

NYS ORPS

"I admit to taking money and that was wrong" ~~ Schwab

Schwab is 4th defendent to plead guilty in kickback scheme!

"From the beginning, our goal was to make sure the interests of Greece taxpayers were protected. This plea agreement brings us closer to our goal of obtaining restitution for taxpayers." ~~ Auberger (Does he expect us to believe he has somehow been instrumental in this plea deal?)

"Today's development reinforces Kodak's belief that Mr. Schwab was part of a broad conspiracy involving Greece tax assessments that defrauded Kodak and others of millions of dollars." ~~ Kodak spokeswoman, Krista Gleason

D&C Story