I am Josh Lafazan and I am running for the Syosset School Board in the upcoming election on May 15th, 2012.
I want to implement numerous changes from within the school system that will NOT add to the tax burden of current home owners.
I also want our school district to be a leader in innovative programs and improvements, not a laggard following behind other districts on Long Island and within the state. We need to move forward with a commitment to excellence not only in the education of our students but in the efficient, cost effective way we run the district.
Below are the first five improvements I want to implement if elected to the school board. There are many more improvements needed in the future that will help reduce the tax burden placed on the current Syosset home owners. These initial changes however, with no added cost to the district, will be at the forefront of my agenda.
1) The Syosset Central School District has over 6,500 students, and it seems they are all very well hydrated, drinking multiple bottles of water each day. We have not been taking advantage of the opportunity to have an organized recycling program that will have multiple benefits. Firstly, our student body can participate in recycling efforts at all ten of our schools, reminding everyone of the benefit to our ecology. Secondly, by having the entire student body participate we will be creating an organized collaboration that provides a civics lesson, and one that will give each school the opportunity to give students authority and responsibility in running the drive to collect recyclables in their individual schools, creating local pride and providing healthy competition against the other schools, thereby spurring on greater participation not only in school but from the homes in our community where many citizens do not practice recycling. Thirdly and most importantly, we can embark on a long term financial goal that will result in the greening of our school system and REDUCING our school district expenses at the same time. It is realistic, that a school wide, district supported recycling effort could raise almost $250,000 per year. Those funds collected during a 2-3 year period will be sufficient to purchase solar panels for the high school roof top. The amount of solar energy collected should eliminate our entire electric bill, and we could even yield a profit by selling the excess energy back to the grid. We should also review our choice of energy supplier. Even though LIPA delivers the electricity, by choosing an alternate energy company we can reduce expenses even further. Once we pay for the high school we should continue the drive, with the ultimate goal of installing solar panels on all 10 of our schools and becoming energy independent. We are eligible for a $2.75 per watt rebate up to 50kW with a maximum of $137,500 according to LIPA. We can also research other rebates and state credits for major public capital improvements.
2) There have been numerous organizations that have tried to donate funds for specific improvements within our school district. The school district continues to deny the donors the opportunity, citing school policy against directed contributions. Are we so rich as a school district to have this policy? I think all the tax paying citizens in this school district are fed up with the district's attitude that the money spigot will always be turned on. Let's start accepting directed donations. Setting up a 503C corporation allowing the PTA to improve their individual schools, and accepting the offer of new basketball backboards at both middle schools are two small examples. Why is it so unfair for one elementary school to receive a new oven while the others do not? No one is being denied a better education. One school might receive improvements to their music room. That does not diminish the music learning at the other schools without this improvement. We should be looking to encourage donations from alumni, with these donations usually directed to their positive experiences at their schools. Many football players have gone back and donated a new turf field and improved locker rooms at their high schools. If we had such a player in our history who wished to do this, he would be told "give us the money and we will decide what to do with it". The arrogance that goes along with that type of policy must come to an end. Passing a resolution (Education Law, Section 1709, subdivision12 and 12A along with Education Law, section 1718, subdivision 2- NYSED.GOV) allowing projects to be funded by donations is possible.
3) The should take advantage of the resources available within the community. Syosset residents are captains of industry or experts in their field touching almost every facet of business that affects the . Many leaders and successful citizens would be happy to contribute their knowledge, allowing the board to make better more informed decisions. Accounting, law, insurance, pensions, investments, bond financing, risk management, health insurance, building maintenance, human resources, management, IT and software, etc. are just some of the areas of expenditures within the school budget. A line by line examination of the budget within specific areas of expertise should yield the opportunity to save money or improve efficiency or procure value added services in many fields. If none of these objectives can be realized then the community at large will learn that the board has made wonderful decisions and they will feel better about getting their monies worth, since this new process will have much more transparency than the current decision making process within the Syosset School Board.
The Syosset board members cannot be as informed regarding insurance regulations, guidelines, potential cost savings, structuring insurance coverage, as well as re-insurance alternatives to reduce costs and retaining coverage as the owners or executives with years of experience within the insurance industry are. The committee of insurance expert volunteers, agreeing in writing not to solicit any business from the school board, would examine all our insurance coverages and expenses and would suggest improvements and changes to the board. The board would then be able to negotiate with stronger knowledge, and might also invite a member or two to join the negotiations with the insurance carriers. This examination of the budget can yield great savings or improved services.
The school board must behave much like current Fortune 500 companies, extracting improved efficiency, gaining greater yield for each dollar expended, and squeezing productivity out of our existing resources, so we can retain our position as a top school offering wonderful opportunities to our students.
Many business websites operate by using feedback from consumers to inform other consumers. Sites rate travel and restaurant destinations, sites rate contactors, doctors etc... , even Wikipedia is dependent upon information from the public. This format allows people to share their experiences. There should be a part of the site that allows current and future parents in the district to gather insight from parents that have been through the school system. The site can allow interaction and current parents can get all kinds of advice as to expectations and direction in navigating the needs of their children. This open forum type link, obviously with disclaimers of liability, will allow parents to gain insight into the experiences they can expect or to cull advice as to direction. Simple questions by parents can be answered and the website would become a resource that would reduce the man hours spent by the district answering questions, and provide a functional resource for the current citizens of Syosset.
4) Every school morning the traffic around the high school is problematic both for the neighborhood and for the parents dropping off their children. Simple changes will significantly reduce traffic on Southwoods Road and allow parents to drop off their children more quickly. The recently installed walkway connecting the lower driving circle to the high school entrance is a good beginning. However, the management of the cars dropping off children needs to be improved. Currently, the security guards remain only on the school property and do not control traffic from the roadway any longer. All security guards that are hired should be required to have passed the traffic safety test which will allow them to once again better control the traffic on Southwoods Road from the roadway itself. Clearing the way for multiple cars to flow out of the circle will create space for multiple cars to then enter the circle simultaneously, thus increasing the volume of cars per minute dropping off. This will significantly reduce traffic and reduce the time needed to navigate drop off for parents, and improve the traffic flow on adjacent streets which are also affected. No additional man power would be required. The current staffing level of security guards, with better instructions and training, will be sufficient to create the improvements. Simple changes at HBT will also improve drop off times. By insuring five cars at a time drop off in front of the school in a timely fashion (rather than parents dropping off and standing and waiting for their children to walk into the school before driving off) we can increase the volume of student drop offs per minute and this will reduce traffic both within the circle and on adjacent streets near the entrance. This will not require any additional man power, just the better utilization of current resources.
5) There are many private businesses today where the business model is simply to get consumers to make their traditional purchases by beginning the shopping process through their web site, allowing that web site to realize a small profit for being the initial portal linked to the eventual web site for a purchase. This is called a redirection. The Syosset community can support their students in a similar fashion. The district website should have a portal feature whereby residents who go on line to make purchases can begin through the district website, allowing funds to be passively earned by the school district, (or a non-profit set up for this purpose) with all the income directed to a general student activity fund. This support will cost the community and the tax payers NOTHING. It will supplement the current student activity fund budget, and this revenue stream can offset the increased costs to the district and may protect the school from eliminating school activities because of budget shortfalls. The total expenditure would be restricted to the implementation of the program. Once the program is up and running, the community would be generating revenue for the students. The district should utilize current students to create a better web site and one that is more interactive, managed by the instructors of the classes teaching web design. The web site should copy the style and contact of the various school districts that currently have great web sites. Please visit the sites of Bethpage, Farmingdale etc... to see what can and should be done.
I will continue to reach out to the community via this blog, videos, e-mail, and door to door if necessary, to urge current residents of Syosset to ELECT JOSH LAFAZAN TO THE SYOSSET SCHOOL BOARD.
A fresh voice for the 21st century.