The unprofitable business of school board governance needs to be evaluated responsibly. We believe that the numerous examples of mismanagement and waste are testimony to this fact that typically the school board members are not educated in budget management and do not know how to effectively monitor the budget.
Commonly, school board members are elected without any skills as a requirement to be placed on the ballot. To believe that they can then become skilled business decision-makers by some form of osmosis is unreasonable and rather silly.
Taxpayers’ money should be spent efficiently and effectively. The presence of teachers and spouses of teachers on the school board is a liability as their decisions would be serving the interests of the teacher’s unions and they naturally would seek self-serving goals, which is a form of corruption. Wastefulness and mismanagement violates the sacred covenant and constitutes an act of corruption.
It is not just a matter of training and education; board members must be vigilant as well. Fresh talent is needed if public schools really want to function properly. Certainly attracting business executives, entrepreneurs and individuals with construction experience with good reputations would offer a fresh and different pool of candidates.
The bond proposition we are going to face on May 16 is a good example of wastefulness and mismanagement. Every price on the line item is exaggerated by several folds. The new bond asks for expansions despite practically no increase in student enrollments. The prices for average square footage of the repairs are many folds higher than the normal prices, which incorporate union-like prevailing wages.
The cost of renovation for one toilet room is $137,500. The school board has forgotten that recently in 2012, the taxpayers paid $58,500 to renovate a toilet room, less than half the current proposition.
The taxpayers are kept in the dark. The square footages of the roof areas that are to be replaced are not provided to the public, yet, the district claims that the total cost for all the roofs needed to be repaired is $30 million. For instance, the proposed cost of roof replacement for Great Neck South High School is $6 million. The Internet aerial photos show a total area of 26,000-square-foot roofs above the Great Neck South High School. The web searches for roof replacement pricing such as ChoiceOfRoofContractors.com leads to roof replacement cost of $10 per square foot for commercial roofs.
Recently, the school board informed the public (also on the GNPS website) that as a result of paying union-like prevailing wages for school projects, their construction costs are 30 percent higher, which should increase the roof replacement to $13 per square foot. The expected cost for roof replacement at the South High School is $338,000 (26,000 square feet by $13/square foot). The school district’s expected cost of $6 million for roof replacement at the South High School is 17 times higher than the expected cost.
The school district’s earlier record, “District’s Capital Projects Report 2011–12,” shows a $1,353,000 roof replacement for Lakeville Elementary School, which was supposed to be performed in 2012. Surprisingly, only five years later, the same roof is up for replacement as it reappears in the current bond (2017) proposal. The cost of this roof replacement in the currently proposed bond is significantly higher ($2,210,000).
The total cost for windows and door replacements in the current bond is $17 million with $4,640,000 as the expected cost for the windows replacement at the Great Neck South High School. This is a ridiculously high number. Even assuming a ridiculously high cost of $2,000 as the average cost for each window in need of replacement, that corresponds to 2,320 windows that are to be replaced at the South High School, which is beyond comprehension.
A proposed budget predominantly allocated increases for benefits and pensions instead of allocating more funds for maintenance. Texas Governor Rich Perry said a simple and direct perspective: “The measure of our success is not whether we provide more money for education, but more education for our money.”
A rather sobering and thoughtful reminder to all school board members that there is a duty to have honor in their dealings, deliberations and decisions—not betrayal of children and taxpayers. It is also a reminder to all school employees that they have a duty to perform their jobs responsibly and ethically.
Many had lost their homes to the exorbitant cost of the school budget, which primarily is dominated by the union-dictated salaries and benefits. In the last decade, many families who had been living in Great Neck for generations during the pre-school-district-unionized era have lost their homes to the unparalleled nationwide taxes.
America was a great country before the unions took over the school systems. Now, the country is great for those benefiting from the unions and not as great for those who are strained by the school taxes as a major part of the family expenses.
While choosing the right candidate to vote for, people of Great Neck should consider that status quo has failed to properly manage our money and their choice will have a serious impact on our future economic life.
—Jack and Wendy Roth