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The School Building Tour

On Wednesday Oct. 28, 2015, the Westbury School District hosted a tour of the middle school building so that the community can see for itself why the building needs to be replaced. The tour was interesting and informative and the district should be commended for its effort to help children and for its transparency.

I attended the tour and took note of three distinct issues; building structure, building maintenance, and overcrowding. [Read more…]

The Naked Truth

I was a pretty awkward teenager in high school so there’s no shortage of cringe-worthy photos of me from my younger years. Every now and again, those pictures will show up again on my Facebook feed or at a friend’s house, and I roll my eyes, wondering why I thought those clothes were cool or that not brushing my hair was an acceptable life choice. [Read more…]

Too Few Facts, Many Unknowns

The Westbury School District is proposing a bond for $173 million to build a new school.
While some of this money will come from federal sources, this translates to a school tax increase of about $500 per household for the next 30 years for village residents. Do you have this money to spare? I know I don’t. 85% of our students come from outside the village, yet we residents will be responsible for over 50% of repayment of this debt. How fair is that? [Read more…]

Westbury School Building Use

Have you ever seen the district requirements and fees for public use of the people’s buildings? They are voluminous, onerous and burdensome; so much so that they become a substantive discouragement for ordinary citizens to even petition for. To many these policies represent intentional and deliberately placed obstacles to the people’s right to gather and voice their complaints about the system.
Where does the district honor the people’s ownership of the buildings, respect the extraordinary tax the people already pay; and where does it support and encourage the people’s obligation to organize and descent?
I had intended to use one of the six school buildings to present my position about the proposed $173 million new school bond but new regulations have made that impossible.
For the good people of Westbury to forfeit this kind of power is a disgrace. For any district to intentionally take advantage of the peoples’ trust and deliberately attempt to deceive and obstruct them in their rightful attempt to use publicly owned buildings for legal and useful assembly, would expose the district as corrupt.
Join the resistance by spreading the campaign at
—Gary Spinello

Be An Informed Voter

This is a critical time for the future of our school district and our community. We cannot go back, but we must move forward. As the board of education and administration make plans to present a capital project bond referendum to the community, you will hear uninformed opinions and deliberate misinformation about the proposed work and the cost to homeowners. When a bond is presented to the community for approval by voters, our community will have an opportunity to take advantage of 76.6 percent in New York State Building Aid to fund the majority of the work proposed in the bond referendum. As a community, we have an opportunity to improve our schools at the state’s expense, an opportunity we likely will never get again. Become an informed voter. Know the facts before you vote!
• The needs of our schools, especially our middle school, must be addressed now.
• The challenges with our schools are here today. Waiting does not remove the challenges; we will pay more to do the same repairs and renovations years from now.
• Our schools are overcrowded now, and our children are learning in storage rooms, closets and spaces that were never designed for instruction.
• Our cafeterias are overcrowded and students must eat breakfast and lunch in our gymnasiums and auditoriums. These are spaces that are needed for instruction and not designed for eating.
• Annual maintenance is included in our yearly school budget. However, it would be irresponsible to include the scope of work included in a proposed bond in the annual budget due to the immediate significant tax increase it would cause.
• The state will be funding the majority of the cost instead of the taxpayers. We believe it’s a win-win situation for our community.
For more information, visit the district’s website at The board of education and administration are planning several meetings to discuss the details of the bond and answer community residents’ questions. Public community forums and building tours are as follows:
A districtwide building tour will be Wednesday, Oct. 28, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. A public community forum will be held on Saturday, Nov. 7, from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at Westbury Middle School
Please plan to attend the community bond forum and building tours to become an informed voter. Additional meeting dates will be announced.
—The Westbury School District Board of Education

What’s Missing In Nassau’s DA Race

Village Justice Tom Liotti

Every four years we have a race for District Attorney. The rhetoric and pandering goes on and on. This year is no different. Candidates are rightfully telling voters what they plan to do to stop heroin overdoses and to prosecute drug dealers. That’s all good but aside from that, within two months before Election Day, we have not heard much else from the candidates. [Read more…]

Figuring Things Out With Fall Books

By Cathleen Towey Merenda

Did you know that studies find that fiction readers are more empathetic than most people? Fiction develops an appreciation and understanding of others’ experiences. In these books, the characters are all trying to sort out a problem and the reader makes the journey of discovery with them.

ColMerenda_100715AEight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave (Simon & Schuster, 2015). Eight hundred grapes is the amount that’s needed to make a bottle of wine. Set in Sonoma County, California, this is a romance about three couples; Georgia and Ben, who are supposed to get married in a week, Georgia’s parents, who own a winery and are questioning their marriage, and their two sons who are both in love with the same woman. Each character in this family is trying to understand what they need to do to find happiness, while trying not to hurt the people they love. [Read more…]

Westbury Voters Faced With Important Decision

Voters in the Westbury Union Free School District will be asked to decide on a bond referendum in the amount of $172.6 million for new construction to replace the aging and physically deteriorated school buildings and to meet enrollment growth projections. The school board contends that this problem is well overdue for attention, as compliance with current ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and health and safety concerns for students, staff and the general public are at stake. It further contends that the time is opportune for such a move, as the state reimbursement incentive of 76.6 percent couldn’t be better when compared to what it was five years ago, and as recent as last year; 55.7 and 67 percent respectively. [Read more…]

School Bond Is Unwise And Costly For Taxpayers

I am writing to express my concern and opposition to the Westbury School District’s $173 million bond proposal, which is planned for a public referendum in November.

In my view, this proposal will have a devastating long-term effect and cost on our community, and add a tremendous additional financial burden on our taxpayers. It is almost unfathomable that when so many families and seniors on fixed incomes are struggling, that the district would even think about incurring such a large amount of additional debt under any circumstances. While I understand that New York State has a program that will subsidize a portion of this bond and associated payments, a full $60 million of the bond will still fall onto our local taxpayers to pay back with interest. That is just too much, and our taxpayers can not afford it. [Read more…]

The Westbury School Solution

The school tax goes up, property values go down and school performance remains poor. This growing crisis is hurting everyone.

Public education should be preserved but the single greatest mistake we are making is to process students like objects on an assembly line, forcing them through the system without regard for their readiness to learn. This policy is causing student indifference and even defiance towards school, and transforming the system into an enormously overpriced daycare. The hard truth is that there is simply no amount of money that can educate teenage students who aren’t ready to learn, and it’s time to accept that compulsory education and truancy law have backfired. If we don’t restore public education as an honor and privilege that must be earned, this crisis will continue to get worse by the day. In addition to the soaring cost, students who are not ready to learn put those who are ready at risk. [Read more…]