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Josh Lafazan Running for the Syosset School Board: A Fresh Voice for the 21st Century

I am Josh Lafazan and I am running for the Syosset School Board in the upcoming election on May 15th, 2012. A fresh voice for the 21st century.

 

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.

Example: Insurance

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.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Sue January 11, 2012 at 12:24 AM
Young bright man with fresh ideas! You've got my vote!!!
Allie Cohen January 11, 2012 at 01:20 AM
Always great to have students getting out there and representing. Good luck Josh!
Max Benezra January 11, 2012 at 01:39 AM
Great ideas Josh! You're bringing some new bright ideas in. Best of luck!
LongIslandNYUSA January 11, 2012 at 04:57 AM
Attention Syosset taxpayers, JOSH IS THE REAL DEAL. I have met with him about running for the school board and he will bring a fresh new perspective to the board, and will certainly NOT be a "rubber stamp". I am not in the district, so I am looking at this from the outside, and I can tell you that his intentions are 1000% for the betterment of the students and the community at large. He has great ideas about how to bring on new transparency, accountability and fiscal conservatism. This is a unique opportunity for the community to benefit from someone who is willing to make a big contribution with his bold new initiatives. Even seemingly 'small' concepts as recycling can bring big benefits, etc. SPREAD THE WORD. Vote for Josh Lafazan. Don't let the "powers that be" shut him out or minimize his candidacy, the power is in the people ....(hey, it's YOUR money!)
DDB January 11, 2012 at 05:56 AM
This is a long article, and not once did I lose interest and not once did I sigh, cringe or harumpf. I believe this young man is onto something!
Madeleine Berg January 11, 2012 at 01:24 PM
I would vote for Josh on the recycling issue alone! Right now my son's 4th grade class is sending plastic bottles home with the students each week to be recycled. The district is missing a major opportunity.
Caroline Zheng January 11, 2012 at 09:22 PM
This is so awesome Josh! Everyone should definitely vote for you. Good luck!
Michael Sigal January 12, 2012 at 01:50 AM
Great article and excellent revenue positive ideas. I would vote for Josh Lafazan, especially on Long Island where taxes are out of control and school districts waste so much.
rena damon January 12, 2012 at 01:43 PM
Great ideas. Josh - are you a senior in high school? And, if so, are you planning on attending a college nearby next year? In other words, if you are elected, will you be here to fulfill the complete term on the school board?
Gabe January 12, 2012 at 02:18 PM
#1. Should read Hankin Out. As for the others, I find it hard to believe that residents would volunteer, for free, their insights or expertise within their industries. You can't get these people to come out to Board meetings! I don't know what side of town Josh grew up on, but I don't think the residents who live in million dollar homes got to live in this district because they volunteered their expertise. Times are tough for everyone, and the last thing people want to do in this economy is work for free. It's sad, but yet so true. Unfortunately a big portion of the community consists of people that are just out for themselves. Also, too much liability for the district to have their security guards directing traffic on a public road.
Grifhunter January 12, 2012 at 07:03 PM
All the money saved through the assumptions about recycling and energy savings will be gobbled up anyway by ever increasing huge teacher/administrator salaries and pensions, so unless our young candidate is committed to confronting spending growth in that particular area, it doesn't change anything.
Harry Hudson January 13, 2012 at 02:54 PM
There are a million reasons not to do try any new idea and the tax payer funded lawyers employed by Dr. Hankin will find them all. Those who are able to bring about real change ignore the setbacks to find the one good reason to try it. No entrenched bureaucracy will go easily and the Syosset school board is no exception. While Mr. Lafazan’s traffic control and recycling will not end the budget madness and help resolve the downward spiral of local real estate values, but it is the best starting point I have seen. Here is someone committing their ideas and most importantly, their time and energy to change the system. When it comes to Board elections, there simply have been no good alternative choices and many simply don’t vote at all. This ensures that the entrenched vested interests stay in control. The Board elections are infinitely more important than the budget vote. This is the key to all local politics, apathy among the local population; complain, but don’t organize to step up and act. Overall this is a community focused on convenience and there is nothing convenient about change. While the real problems may appear to be the crushing tax burden we all share, it is actually the Board’s lack of a real educational vision and accountability to the tax paying community. The out of control spending is just the worst symptom. Change the Board and start to address the real problem. This is the best first step I have seen.
Grifhunter January 13, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Ok, Josh. What say you about $600,000 compensation packages for school administrators? For, against? If against, what are the options?
DDB January 14, 2012 at 03:56 AM
I agree 100% - no single person can change the entire broken system, and it is unfair and unrealistic to expect that of anyone. We need a pioneer to start chipping away at status quo. A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step and I for one would like to see this journey get a chance.
LongIslandNYUSA January 14, 2012 at 03:59 AM
agreed.... NEED an OUTSIDER to make INROADS!
Joshua Lafazan January 14, 2012 at 11:21 PM
Ms. Damon, I am currently a senior, as well as the Senior Class President at Syosset High School. I will be attending Nassau Community College this fall. Going to college locally allows me to continue growing my Safe Ride Syosset program, as well as allowing me to be a full time member of the Syosset School Board.
Joshua Lafazan January 14, 2012 at 11:33 PM
Many people have voiced concerns that if I am away at college I won’t be able to be a full-time board member. I would like to address those concerns by clarifying that I will be attending Nassau Community College this fall, and staying locally will allow me to fulfill all of my responsibilities on the School Board, as well as growing my Safe Ride Syosset program. www.SafeRideSyosset.org
Joshua Lafazan January 14, 2012 at 11:38 PM
Mr. Hunter, Right now I want to focus on my platform and gaining support for these changes. There will be plenty of time later on in the campaign when I will be addressing financial issues, including outrageous compensation packages.
rena damon January 15, 2012 at 12:56 AM
Thanks for the update, Josh.
DDB January 15, 2012 at 06:22 AM
Parents of students volunteer their time for all sorts things, I disagree that people would not volunteer their expertise.
LongIslandNYUSA January 15, 2012 at 06:52 AM
1:51 am on Sunday, January 15, 2012 Howie, are you (or anyone else out there) able to post what you understand to be the salaries, bonuses, stipends, perks, health plans, retirement packages and ANY other type of benefits of the overpaid people you are referring to. Also, how many weeks a year are they obliged to work? I know what I have heard, but thought it would be prudent to get the facts straight. (I do know it to be OUTRAGIOUS in every sense of the word) Can someone out there research this????
Marc Jamenson January 15, 2012 at 07:00 AM
Gabe, as a syosset parent myself i am DISGUSTED by this comment. Simply because you wont volunteer please do not make that assumption for all parents. There were so many volunteers at my elementary school last week that i could not get a spot to sell lunch. There are so many parents wanting to get involved. Josh's idea is a phenomenal one, one that uses the resources available to us. As a professional myself, i will volunteer. Please don't be pessimistic and try to crush such a brave and couraeuos attempt at real and vivid change.
LongIslandNYUSA January 15, 2012 at 07:01 AM
I agree with DDB, especially if the parents felt their voices would heard and welcomed. Perhaps their could be an advisory panel of parents who are experts in their field and want to contribute their time and talent to give some insight on issues they are familiar with in their jobs, and that related to issues at the school. For example, if the school was looking to buy a product or service, the board can form an advisory panel and have a group of parents, whom are vetted to confirm their actual expertise, to sit in on a round table to discuss the issue at hand to at least get another set of opinions from people who are knowledgable and whom has a vested interest in the district. (ie: TAXPAYER) Just an idea.
Marc Jamenson January 15, 2012 at 07:09 AM
LongIslandNYUSA, you bring up a great point. Here are the actual facts: http://www.syossetistops.org/files/_UTJhd_/709ba523ef3eae6f3745a49013852ec4/2011-2012_Budget.pdf http://www.syossetistops.org/files/_UdI1Y_/cf493f073e4987713745a49013852ec4/Syosset_Teachers_Association_CBA_2011-14.pdf And here is the worst of them all, the superintendents contract: http://www.syossetistops.org/files/_UdJBB_/2f09e30ab09a1df33745a49013852ec4/S_Contract_2011.pdf
Marc Jamenson January 15, 2012 at 10:06 PM
You still must acknowledge that this is a tremendous first step! Of course Mr. Lafazan knows about the salary problem, but you can not kill every bird with one stone! This first stone i am sure will make a significant impact on budget and energy issues in syosset, as well as taking the next step into the future. And for your information, the teachers union, because they actually care about the district, took a pay freeze this year so please do not insult teacher salaries. The superintendent clearly has a problem with her package but i am confident that Mr. Lafazan will address that later. On a side note, If you are so passionate about administration salaries, maybe you should run for the board instead of try to kill other people's exciting attempt at change.
Harry Hudson January 16, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Much of the fight over salaries and benefits is over before it ever begun. Once again apathetic involvement from tax payers has let the Board slip new contracts for both administrators and teachers past residents without any real public comment, let alone public debate. The results are locked in salary and benefit increases for the next three to five years. In a time of tremendous economic challenges for all, the Board has thought it reasonable to guarantee benefits to district employees that are well beyond those available to tax payers working in the private sector. Directly in the face of all the media ridicule and political controversy over our Superintendent’s compensation package, the Board has guaranteed the madness for another five years. Why you and I must continue to pay for the Superintendent’s personal auto expenses escapes me. The damage has been done. The tax increases will continue. The local real estate market will continue its decline. Older homeowners who can’t wait out the bottom will not be able to sell at a level that will allow them to get out of this downward spiral with enough capital to move on. Salary and benefit needs already dominate the total budget. The decline in budget money for educational programs and support for the already lacking physical infrastructure will accelerate. It is not a pretty picture. It very well maybe too late, but if you live here it is worth a shot. Stop nit picking those who stand up, change the Board.
LongIslandNYUSA January 18, 2012 at 04:39 AM
AGREED
LongIslandNYUSA January 18, 2012 at 04:39 AM
YIKES!
joe January 18, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Lets not lose focus on this thread! This is about change and a vote for Josh! It is our fault that the school board does not represent us well! Stop voting for Board members friends, partners and relatives! We need individual free thinkers representing us! To much of a buddy club of large income earners that dont understand average compensation packages. After all they only review what is presented to them! Josh will be the first change so get out and vote for him and push your neighbors to vote for him. Support him at any public board meetings etc.. VOTE FOR JOSH! NO MORE FRIENDS OF FRIENDS ON OUR SCHOOL BOARD! " TWO FRIENDS/PARTNERS IS EQUAL TO ONE VOTE! NOT GOOD FOR US!

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