Recent information in local media contrasts the quality of education provided by the Locust Valley School District with local private schools. It also, selectively examined associated property taxes. While I have the highest respect for these private institutions and appreciate that some families prefer the setting, I am unaware of any information demonstrating or expressing academic superiority.

However, what I am aware of is the high caliber education the school district offers and furnishes to its students. The high school is rated in the top 1% of high schools in the United States by Newsweek magazine. It has the highest Regents Graduation rate (99%) in Nassau County. This year two students were National merit semi-finalists and one student a finalist, an extraordinary accomplishment. Ninety-eight percent of its graduates go on to college, very often the best colleges and universities.  This year’s graduates, for example, were accepted to Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Duke, Notre Dame, Boston College, Columbia, University of Michigan, Dartmouth, University of North Carolina, and Cornell among many others

Disturbingly, the financial information reported is arbitrary, and mischievous. For example, one publication discloses high administration cost in 2007 but fails to point out that similar high performing school districts in the area, such as Oyster Bay, North Shore, and Jericho had higher administrative expenses. Moreover, it failed to report that Locust Valley publically disclosed and outlined a 30 % cut in administrative positions since 2007. 

Not realizing that transportation and books for private schools are part of the Locust Valley School budget, paid for by Locust Valley tax -payers, the publication incorrectly reported the cost to educate a Locust Valley student.

It also failed to report that Locust Valley’s 0.92% effective tax rate is among the lowest in the state and the school aid it receives ranks among the lowest, 658 of 671 school districts. Furthermore, it failed to mention that the proposed 2010/11 budget has a 0% salary increase for teachers and that all union contracts are being renegotiated.

Property expenses are high and must be controlled, but informed community members know a bankrupted state has dramatically reduced state aid, (over $1million dollars to Locust Valley,) while substantially increasing unfunded mandates. Recently it ordered schools to pay millions of dollars to bailout the MTA.  Additionally, the state provides generous employee pension and benefit plans requiring school districts to fund them.
The proposed 2010-11 school budget is a sound one, which keeps the tax increase at approximately $60 to $100 for the entire year for a house valued at $500,000 in Bayville or Locust Valley. In fact, if state aid had not been cut and unfunded mandates increased, the tax levy would have decreased by -.39%. That’s value we can all support.

Jack Dolce
President of LVBOE