As the mayor of the Village of Thomaston, as a homeowner and as a parent with my wife, Raquel, of two children currently attending and one adult child who has graduated from the Great Neck schools, I have firsthand knowledge and a perspective that I would like to share with you to consider when you cast your vote on May 16, 2017, for the Great Neck Public Schools budget and bond proposal. Please remember you will be asked to vote for the both the Budget and the Bond Referendum separately on the ballot.
The school district is managed by the superintendent’s office and is governed by the Board of Trustees for whom you will also vote to elect two trustees. The school district continues to be an important key element of our Great Neck community. There is a multitude of academic services and programs that are provided in the classroom and supported by a highly motivated and extremely dedicated staff that make our schools a leading district for our children to learn, grow and cultivate lifetime experiences. Great Neck is a magnet that attracts the best candidates for teaching and administration positions. This can only occur based upon what is provided in the proposed annual school budget.
By now, you have read or heard the facts explaining how the school taxes that we pay for one of the most highly rated school districts in the state are significantly less when compared with other comparable districts and how the school district and the Board of Trustees squeezes the budget for efficiencies to keep the tax burden down and within the 2 percent tax cap (which, as you know, is actually less than 2 percent). Critical to your decision is understanding that the annual budget is primarily for annual operating expenditures and has limited funds for construction and maintenance items. The annual budget is not designed for, does not and cannot support a capital-building plan. All 18 school district buildings are 50 years or older, the average age of all buildings is 77 years and the oldest building is more than 90 years old. Our facilities require modernization and maintenance to meet the needs of our children and the staff that teaches and takes care of them. These construction projects have been part of a capital building plan that has been financed by municipal bonds and that are the subject of a bond referendum approximately every 20 years. That’s why we are being asked now in a separate vote to support the bond. The bond vote is for the capital construction plan, which will address the needs of our school district buildings and facilities.
What I can tell you first hand is that the superintendent, administration and trustees have reached out to all elected officials and our community to gain insight on how to do even better, be more efficient and prioritize projects in order to reduce the amount of the bond and save even more money in the budget. I am also sharing with you firsthand that the door remains open for a dialogue on how to continue to manage the budget and capital projects. This is long-term capital construction planning and fiscal management that can help reduce construction costs for future bond referendums.
The Village of Thomaston, along with the other villages and unincorporated areas of Great Neck, has benefited firsthand from the reputation of our school district. Sales of our homes have resulted in increased real property values that have been driven by families moving into our village, not just from the New York–metropolitan area, but from families moving across the country or from around the world so that their children can be educated in our school district. Families have even relocated in our village, and throughout Great Neck, temporarily just to take advantage of the offerings of our school district. This is just one of the driving forces behind increasing home values in the Great Neck real estate market. If, for no other reason than purely your own financial self-interest, you should vote for the budget and for the bond to reap the benefits of higher real estate values.
I strongly encourage all registered voters in each household to please join me on May 16 in voting Yes for the school budget, Yes for the bond and, most importantly, Yes for our children, our schools and our community. We will be voting for the reputation and rating of our school district and investing in the growth of our real property values. It’s a win-win that will bring us together, in agreement, as a community that takes pride in educating the next generation.
Village of Thomaston