Town Board Candidates Speak: Education

Part three of a five-part series running this week on Patch regarding Town Board candidates and the issues.

With taxes high, teachers being let go, student resources cut and overcrowding a reality in Huntington Station, Town Board candidates were asked at a recent forum what they would do, if elected, to help increase the quality of education.

During the NAACP-sponsored Meet The Candidates Night at the South Huntington Public Library last week, some promised advocation with Albany to curb mandates others agreed that communication is key.

Republican candidate Eugene Cook said there should be no excuse for our kids not getting the best education out there."

"As a Town Council member what I would like to do is get all of the boards of the schools together and sit them down and have a good discussion about what we need to consolidate to cut costs," said Cook.

Married to a teacher, Herb Morrow said he understands schools from the perspective of an educator.

"The best thing we can do to help our kids get a good education is to let the people who teach our kids, teach," said Morrow, a Republican and the mayor of Huntington Bay.

Morrow said he recently met a fourth grade teacher in a South Huntington shopping center at the midway point in her career who believes teaching is not as much fun as it used to be.

He said a lot of the problem has to do with Albany.

"We have a two percent tax cap that was going to solve all of these problems yet all of the school districts this year were handed new programs that had to be implemented over the summer," said Morrow. "Many of the school principals had to go off to training for $12-15,000 that was not budgeted."

Morrow said he would work to "get [Albany] off our backs in terms of mandates and allow our teachers to teach out kids."

Incumbent Town Board member Glenda Jackson agreed with Morrow.

"I actually agree with my opponent," said Jackson, a Democrat. "We do need to advocate with Albany."

Jackson said although school districts are not under the jurisdiction of the town, [the town] "should continue to do the right thing."

As far as overcrowding in District 3, Jackson has a plan. "If we get that school opened, we can alleviate some of that."

Town Board member Susan Berland said she has been invited by a couple of school districts to sit with PTSA groups where students and parents explain to elected officials what they want and she can describe what the town is doing to help.

"Communication is very important because the Town Board does not have any direct jurisdiction over the school district," said Berland. "That being said, it is very important for us as a town to provide the types of programs we provide."

She said the Youth Council, made up of representatives from all of the nine high schools in the Town of Huntington to discuss issues that affect them should be continued.

"It's very important that we keep these programs open in the town," said Berland.

Free 2B Me October 29, 2011 at 12:15 PM
All of the "candidates" got the answer wrong. There is not much that Town Hall can do directly in regards to schools. However, Town Hall has to step up and stop all of the clear and obvious illegal apartments and illegal housing in Huntington. Schools are obligated under the law to educate all residents, legal or not. Therefore, it is up to Town Hall to enforce code. The influx of these children raise costs and increase class size. If any of these children require special needs, the cost increase can be 5 times that of the average cost per child. Come on candidates, the question was a softball and all of you whiffed. Free2Bme
kate October 29, 2011 at 12:53 PM
@ Free 2B Me Could not have said it better. Town Hall needs to clean up illegal housing....period. However, they all seem to put this issue on the back burner and focus on things that add up to nothing at the end of the day, such as pretty brick sidewalks !! It is very obvious that they have "something" worked out with the slumlords...otherwise they would not allow the illegal, dangerous housing that these creeps own. We need new faces on the Board.....we can not continue on the path we are on with the current board....our town is going to pots! Would love to hear the new candidates speak n this issue and what they plan to do !!
kate October 29, 2011 at 12:57 PM
Also make LIPA responsible (stiff fines) for placing multiple meters on homes that are single family housing......perhaps town hall and LIPA are in it together...who knows !!
Robert Desmond October 29, 2011 at 01:05 PM
I agree with Gene Cook that a meeting to consolidate expenses must be done. That is a no brainier. It is criminal to me that districts have not combined their purchasing power to lower costs. I just love Jackson's reply. It is a clear indication that if re-elected we will simply get more of the same. No crime fighting, no proactive effort to make life hell for the slum lords just re-open JAI. I am sure she is a fine person but she is lost and simply not up to the job. That is her plan? The re-opening of JAI will stop the crime? improve our kids education. Good grief. We need to ruthlessly crack down on the slum lords in order to reduce the very high number of children that aren't supposed to be in this school district or this country for that matter. As the previous poster mentioned we need to spend 5 times the average school student to educate them. This theft our our services is criminal. We need to hire teachers to teach them English. When did it become our responsibility to subsidize the education of illegal immigrants? Do we all not have to save for our own children' s college educations? Isn't that enough of a burden to carry? I want to hear a lot more from all of the candidates on how they will fight the illegal apartment issue. I support strongly Herb Morrow and Gene Cook because we will need effective managers to be able to live within our means of having a 2% budget caps and unfunded mandates from Albany. You need manager's with private sector experience.
Robert Desmond October 29, 2011 at 02:03 PM
@Kim this is not a knock at you personally but it is a knock against your philosophy and it is really the root cause of corruption in this town. Let me draw an analogy. When my children were younger they would misbehave in stores. To quiet them my wife would promise them candy. The problem was that the kids would convince her to give them the candy prior to leaving the store. Once eaten the bad behavior would resume but now they have sugar high and it is worse. They also know that they will be rewarded for being bad so what is the deterrent besides dad being at the store? None What is my point if you haven't gotten in already? My point is that you cannot reward the town board with new housing until they succeed in destroying the illegal housing business that goes unchecked and in fact thrives. They have no fear of being caught for stealing our services and probably do not report their income to the IRS. Do their insurance companies know that they are using single family homes for multi family dwellings? Trust me the underwriters for these companies would simply love that information. Another impact of your plan would be that we would have to overcrowd our schools even more than they are now to begin a decade long battle. For those who do not appreciate my point of view take comfort in the fact that my wife doesn't appreciate my analogy. If I am willing to sacrifice to fight this fight then so should we all.
Kim October 29, 2011 at 02:24 PM
The people living in these multi-metered homes would never pass the credit check for any of these "diversifed housing stock" Kim supports.
kate October 29, 2011 at 02:35 PM
Credit check......that would be the least of their worries...how about legal documentation that they are legal citizens !! @ Robert....sorry your wife does not agree with your analogy....but you are right on the money with your remarks.....truth hurts sometimes !
kate October 29, 2011 at 05:14 PM
Legal or not.....some(alot) are living in "illegal" homes ! There are "plenty" of apartments available that are legal...go onto Multiple Listing of LI and take a look , even Craig's List. If the landlords that are collecting all the rent money and not reporting it to IRS would have to pay a large chunk of it to the schools in which the kids they are illegally housing attend, perhaps they will think twice before they do it...that is if Town Hall would do their job and pay a visit to these slumlords.....and yes, the Town Board knows who they are and where they live !!
Robert Desmond October 29, 2011 at 05:16 PM
Kim, These people were never supposed to be here in the first place. Huntington is not the only town on Long Island. They can move elsewhere. It is not our problem to find them homes. A 30 day notice to them will give them ample time to find a new home. To think that this can be done simultaneously is not logical. It is going to take years to clean this town up and only a few months to build new housing. The housing at Avalon Bay will not be within their price range anyway so it isn't and option. That should and must leave. I didn't create the problem the slum lords and Town Council did. This is a free society so they can live anywhere but here. We are full. In addition is get email alerts from I.C.E. when they announce recent raids on illegal immigrant housing units and places of business. When was the last time I.C.E. did any work in this town. I check every press release I receive from them and I have never seen a raid in this area. We must enlist their assistance to get these lawbreakers out. To think that we can afford to assimilate children of illegal aliens into our system with a 2% property tax cap is nuts. Hopefully when Obama is voted of office in 2012 we will get the relief from this invasion by the federal government.
Robert Desmond October 29, 2011 at 06:02 PM
Thanks Kate, I promised her dinner out tonight and she is fine with that. Either Jonathan's or Cassis, either one is going to cost me. Enjoy your weekend!
Robert Desmond October 29, 2011 at 06:15 PM
Kate, Great points. If I were to be elected to Town Council I would take out a full page add in Newsday announcing a war on illegal apartments. I would pin point exactly where and how I would do it. IRS, NYS Dept. of Taxation, Insurance Companies and lastly the soon to be revamped Code Enforcement and TOH legal council. I would make examples of the first few offenders. Show their faces, names, dollar amount of services stolen the fines charred them and an estimate of the legal costs they paid. It would be a blood bath of embarrassment. I want reparations from these slum lords. To get them I would offer a 30 day immunity from criminal charges if they opened their doors to inspection, unannounced follow up spot inspections for the next five year and a fine. They respect only one thing and that is ruthless code enforcement. Why else don't you hear about this issues in other towns? This is a war and the enemy must be treated as such. Then I want Kim D'Ambrosio to be hired as our ambassador of good will to new business. I am sue she would want to do well by this community by attracting new business to Huntington Station and create that downtown Soho feel. We want young people but we don't want our young people living in slum housing. We can work something out there. I really do want HS to be the home of the young. I don't know what the answer is but we should really work to make it happen.
Dan Ciccone October 29, 2011 at 07:39 PM
Great point Free2... Could not agree more. Great point. They all punted. I will give them the benefit of the doubt in saying they are speaking in broad terms. Truth is, they seem to have no clue about how illegal apartments and multiple familes living in single family homes put tremendous burdens on local schools.
Dan Ciccone October 29, 2011 at 07:47 PM
@Kate... Notwithstanding legal documentation, if a child resides within the boundaries of a school district, the district MUST provide that child with a free and adequate education... Including making special accomodations for English Language Learners... I am not aruging right or wrong, I am simply stating the law. Now, if the child is living in an illegal apartment or other dwelling, that is not within the authority of BOE's to decide or act upon; hence, the town board must step up.
kate October 29, 2011 at 08:02 PM
@ Dan....I am well aware of that law...what I am saying is take the $ it takes to educate the kids that are living in these illegal apts out of the pocket of the slumlord that is taking in all the benefit. I would never want to deny a child an education..
Dan Ciccone October 30, 2011 at 02:35 AM
I never thought you were saying that you would deny a child... So if you thought otherwise please accept my apologies. I wasn't sure you knew the law, most people do not. It would be nice to place a fine on the slumlord and have that money go to the local school district where the children attend... That would be nice :)
JSC October 30, 2011 at 03:28 AM
Consolidation of services can certainly be looked into, but I will say that most districts have done that over the last few years. For example, Huntington was buying gasoline from the town for it's district-owned cars/trucks. Lunch services used to be shared with Harborfields. Sometimes sharing or consolidation just doesn't work out, for whatever reason. To say that no district has tried is a bit disingenuous. Someone mentioned not reporting income to the IRS - I'd include the state in that comment. When this happens it also affects the amount of state aid the districts receive. Income is part of the CWR, or Combined Wealth Ratio, which determines the amount of money a district can receive for certain items in state aid - thus, unreported income (no matter who does it) is a bad thing. In Huntington's case, although we obviously have many people living "in poverty" to make it general, we "look" very wealthy due to all the rich in the northern part of town who do report their income. Bingo - less state aid. The kids also bring many learning problems to the table. Districts must hire more ESL or Dual Language teachers. Some kids need special services. But regardless of any of that, they also affect the district when they don't do well on state testing. Low scores over a few years causes districts to spend money on remedial programs demanded by the state "or else". District's reputations are hurt when they hit the "needs improvement list".
Robert Desmond October 30, 2011 at 03:28 PM
@Kim You forget that what you call "keep my 1950's white single family suburb alive" are the people that built this country. Tom Brokaw's book called them "The Greatest Generation" & he is not a conservative. I find self hating white people to be disturbing to say the least. You seem to carry a guilt for being white and that guilt you feel must be shared by others that are white. My suggestion to you Kim is to stop looking at people using color as your character qualifier & judge them through their character and contribution to society. The fact that you have had a severe break down in the nuclear family since the 1960's which has disproportionaly hit the black community is not the fault of the 1950's whites but the fault of the 1960's white spoiled rotten children of the 1940's and 50's whites irrational white guilt which gave rise the victim class or the entitlement class. What you are seeing in the rise of groups such as Greater Huntington Civic Group is a need to get back to a time when common sense ruled. They are a counter to the Huntington Housing Coalition and the NAACP who do not represent the tax paying voter but seek to do everything to undermine them. It's the liberal mentality that have caused the mess that you see before you in Huntington Station and it needs to be ruthlessly eradicated. Again, stop looking at color as a litmus test for who gets what. Begin looking at ethic and character, those folks who pass the test will be our best neigbor.
Clifford Sondock October 30, 2011 at 07:20 PM
Illegal housing is a red herring as a cause for the high cost of K-12 education and school overcrowding. First, restrictive zoning and building codes cause the lack of selection and quality of housing; the high price of housing.and the prevalence of "illegal" housing. Second, Long Island's K-12 school system suffers the same lack of selection and quality and high cost due to the compulsory and monopolistic nature of our Government controlled K-12 school system. School vouchers and parental choice would introduce market competition and private sector innovation to our K-12 education system; increasing selection and quality of schools and driving down cost. Restricting housing development to constrain the cost of K-12 school is a false choice. Free markets work, even in K-12 education.
Robert Desmond October 30, 2011 at 11:34 PM
Sure Clifford, the reduction of kids requiring special ed needs wouldn't have a positive impact on the school district's budget. Then by your theory we should import the entire school age population of El Salvador and there would be no adverse impact. I don't think that anyone could defend your logic but would love to hear it. All school districts have monopolistic government controlled K-12 education. So, the performance of each school district is viewed a success or failure relative to the value that the town council does their job. Stronger code enforcement means less drain on the school districts budget. This town council supposedly representing the tax payer has failed to enforce codes thereby applying more mandates to educate those who do not belong here on top of the mandates added by NYS. What of our neighboring towns? They live under the same mandate yet their willingness to defend the property rights of homeowners against slum lords allows them to add more to the basic education needs of the children. We educate illegals while our neighbors invest in technology. Let's get real here Now the state has correctly mandated that their should be no greater then a 2% property tax increase we find ourselves in crisis mode. The current management of this town needs to either get with the need understand the the good times of hammering the tax payer are over. Efficiencies need to put in place and if they incapable of delivering value to the taxpayer they must be fired.
kate October 31, 2011 at 12:21 AM
Mr Sodock... you should take note of every word Mr Desmond has said...he is right on the money...not sure where you are getting your info...rather misleading to say the least,,,,
any October 31, 2011 at 02:16 PM
This discussion certainly went far off topic. Back to the candidates, I have no negative attitudes toward Cook, he has grown a strong business and could offer some value to the discussion. Morrow is a small man with lot of attitude but no accomplishments. After some fact checking it was found that he has falsified his resume and can’t hold a job. Regarding suspending his consulting business - another lie, he had no clients. If he can’t manage two things at once, then he’s not Town Council material - its 'not a full time job. Morrow is too busy putting up his own road signs to work a real job. He needs to win this position to have some income so that his wife is not the sole supporter. He is accused of stealing from the residents of Huntington Bay over many years and is under investigation. His management style is to threaten and bully making employees of the Village fear for their jobs. So many people want him out of the Village that they ran an unknown against him as a write-in candidate during last year’s election. If the GOP machine hadn’t made calls, the Mayor that thinks he is King would have been pushed off the thrown of his no pay post. With ten times the typical voter turnout, the unknown in a day got a third of the vote. Morrow is not a leader, he's a big blotto bag of wind that has alienated his own community because he doesn't listen and thinks he knows more than everyone. If that’s what you want in your town government - vote for him.
Kim October 31, 2011 at 02:50 PM
and obvious fake account spreading rumors and lies. So sad that you can't stand by your own convictions and produce proof of such things. You obviously made up this "any" to slander Mr Morrow. Berland must be on overtime scared to stoop to such levels.
Robert Desmond November 01, 2011 at 12:59 AM
You are truly a reprehensible individual and a coward for not having the guts to post your full name and provide any evidence to substantiate your horrible accusations. It's pathetic drones such as yourself with zero credibility that have helped kept that powers that be in position to oversea the decay of this town. You are as corrupt as they either both intellectually and moralitly. Folks, I post my full name because I have the courage of my convictions. I know Herb Morrow and I fully support him as Town Councilman. He served 10 years as Mayor of Huntington Bay at zero pay. A true public servant who has great ideas. Think of the unsubstantiated lies that the above thug posted. We need to get past this and demand higher ethics and morality from our neighbors and leaders. Herb Morrow and Gene Cook will provide that leadership.
Dan Ciccone November 01, 2011 at 02:10 AM
The Patch posed a question regarding Town Council and Education. The blogging got a little off track, but that is understandable considering that Town Council has little authority in public education. Bringing the conversation to illegal housing was the only common ground that could be found.... Now, Mr. / Mrs. Any took the opportunity to say dispariging comments about an individual without standing up and giving a real name. Reprehensible coward is an understatement. Even if there was some truth Any's comments... This was not the forum for such remarks. Please never post again.


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