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Administrator: Post on 'Suffolk Outrage' Website Has Facts Wrong

Assistant superintendent blasts writers for manipulating facts.

A post published on May 4 on SuffolkOutrage.com titled "Three Village Schools Exposed" is full of falsehoods about the district's proposed budget, a school official said Monday.

Jeff Carlson, assistant superintendent for business services, spelled out multiple errors, most notably the Web page's claim that Three Village's proposed budget would raise the tax levy by "more than twice the average increase for all schools on Long Island."

Three Village's proposed tax levy increase is 4.48 percent, while the average for Long Island is 2.61 percent and in Suffolk 2.84 percent, Carlson said. Because of Three Village's decreased state aid revenue along with other factors, 2.99 percent was the actual limit on the tax levy increase that Three Village could propose and still need only a simple majority of votes to pass. Each individual school district had a different tax cap due to a funding formula, with only a handful of them at exactly 2 percent.

The Web page also claims the percentage of the school budget related to the salaries of teachers and administrators is 80 percent. Carlson explained that the largest part of the budget is for salaries not just for teachers and administrators: it's all district staff, including custodians, security guards, clerks, monitors, and more, and it represents about 75 percent of the school's budget.

The salary list is an outdated one that included payouts to many retiring teachers for their unused sick time or early retirement incentive, and does not necessarily represent their regular salaries, Carlson said.

"They really manipulated a lot of facts and left out important pieces of them. ... There are blatant misstatements in this thing," he said.

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It's only a concern for the district if people take the Web page at face value, he said.

"I’m hoping they see things in there that they know are not true," Carlson said, "and then they can at least pause to think, ‘Before I believe everything I read, I’d rather verify it for myself.’"

Among the Web page's points, there are some that are accurate: residents do pay school taxes regardless of whether they have children in the district. Teachers do work about 180 days per year contractually, although there are many district employees including administrators who work all 12 months. Also true: Teachers generally have raises built into their contracts regardless of their performance.

What many people don't realize, Carlson said, is that the most budget savings are seen when staff members are laid off. In the proposed 2012-2013 school budget, more than 85 full-time equivalent positions will be cut as part of about $6.5 million in reductions the district already made. However, Carlson said, when you cut the staff members that usually means the program or service they provided gets cut, too.

He reiterated the hope that the residents will consider the facts and vote accordingly, regardless of whether people choose to support the budget.

"I don’t think it would do anybody any good to put out misstatements, though. It doesn’t help anybody," he said.

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Don't Tread on Me May 16, 2012 at 12:54 AM
You are so right Suffolk Outrage. The straw that broke my back was three unattended children coming to me with Hershey's chocolate bars asking for my vote. I hope the parents who sent them are proud of prostituting their children for a vote. The taxpayers of Suffolk County have certainly had enough. Three village may have some excellent students but they also have a very strong drug culture. As a realtor, I have been in many homes that have removed their children from 3 village schools because of their constant exposure to drugs. Wake the heck up and stop feeding the endless monster who only spits out how wonderful they are! Will you only wake up when it hits your home directly? My vote is no! We are done. The higher the taxes go, the lower the property values go. We have reached a breaking point. Enough is enough!
Concerned Overtaxed Parent May 16, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Thank you Suffolk Outrage. In this 'liberal press' nation it is wonderful to finally have a news source with the expertise, wisdom and courage to tell it like it really is. You really put Mr. Carlson in his place.
Wolfgang Wulff May 16, 2012 at 08:54 PM
John Doe can't give his real name. He thinks that two or more wrongs make a right. At least he inserts "probably" in his off-hand allegation. The fact is that 3V is $2,000 per pupil and year higher than the average of twelve neighboring school districts; that is 9% higher! John thinks it is desirable to live here only until the time comes to sell his house and he finds out that buyers fade away with tax shock. I find his suggestion to "move to another district" rather selfish and arrogant. When I came here in the seventies, the taxes were high but less than the mortgage. It takes now $290,485 to produce a 3V-high school graduate (without kindergarten). That amount produces 3.9 engineers with four years of university in Europe. John must be from a far-away planet, but he can akways donate to any of the several booster clubs.
candy land May 18, 2012 at 04:18 PM
I have never read so much false information in my life. Taxes are high every where. If you went to budget meetings you would have all this information before the vote. So you would not wait until after to make these unfounded comments. You all blame the administration for high taxes look at what percent of the budget goes to teacher salaries. Pay freezes would be great except you can not do that because of teacher contracts. Stop bashing people and become educated.

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