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      pmeagwaliDear Community Members;

      I am writing this letter for two very important reasons. First, thank you for reelecting me to the Elmont School Board. It is an honor and privilege to serve our community.

      Secondly, as a resident and parent of children in the Elmont School District, I respectfully urge you vote "yes" to pass the Elmont School budget scheduled for a revote on June 19, 2012.

      Much was made of the fact that the tax rate exceeded the state mandated Tax Cap of 2%. But what pleased me most was the majority community support of the modest 2.8% increase. The voting Elmont community supported our schools and a budget which the Board and Superintendent worked very hard to ensure was both educationally and fiscally sound.

      The issue is that state mandated increases to district expenditures in three areas - Retirement System increase 15%; Health Insurance Increase 11% and Special Education Increase 2% represent 2.3% of the 2.8% increase.  Madated expenses alone caused the district budget to exceed the 2 percent Tax Cap.

      Without those mandates, the budget would have increased by only one half of one percent (0.5%).

      Additionally, the tax rate exceeded the Albany Tax Cap because state aid was reduced (we pay our bills with state aid and taxes we collect) and when state aid decreases the shortfall must be made up with local property taxes.

      We have an excellent educational program in spite of a dramatic funding gap. Our district ranks near the bottom (53of 56) in Nassau County in per-pupil spending. Defeat of our budget on June 19 would result in a mandatory reduction of $3.4 million. Thus we face teacher's layoffs, class size increases, full day kindergarten elimination, and dramatic cuts to teacher aide, bus attendant, and other support personnel.

      In addition, it could also means the elimination of summer programs, after school programs, Saturday enrichment, and the language academies.

      I cannot see how this would not adversely affect home values in our community. Therefore, I urge my neighbors to carefully consider the long ranging negative consequences of voting 'No'. Please vote "Yes" on June 19.

      Elmont Resident and Parent.