Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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January 28th, 2011

Gunther brings high ranking educational officials here

With little fanfare, Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther recently brought high ranking state educational officials to Sullivan County to discuss an important new program planned for children with autism, and to afford our education leaders the opportunity to talk about our schools and their needs.

State Education Commissioner David Steiner, Chancellor Merryl Tisch, along with Gunther, met with Superintendants, School Board members, and administration from the Center for Discovery.

Patrick Dollard discussed the much needed Comprehensive Care and Assessment Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders which the Center for Discovery is planning for children who begin to show signs of autism.

Children will be assessed and cared for with the goal of helping the child, parents and school through a difficult period.

Gunther told me, “If we can keep these children in their homes and in their local schools, we will not only save millions of dollars, but we will provide these children a better quality of life.”

This was the first time ever that both the Commissioner and Chancellor visited Sullivan County and Gunther must be commended for making it happen.

Gunther said she wanted Steiner and Tisch to hear “directly from our superintendents and board members, those working in the trenches, about the problems they face on a daily basis providing education to our children. I believe we had a great exchange of information.”

Only 20 percent of a school budget is controlled by a district, while the State of New York mandates and sets certain requirements and criteria. The state has slashed funding to our schools forcing taxpayers to potentially foot the bill if school districts do not come up with other means to meet their budgets. Reducing or eliminating the mandates on the schools will help them control costs.

Because it is the obligation of County governments to make school districts whole, it will cost us $18,795,000 to cover unpaid school taxes and taxes on state property the county collects for districts, up $800,000.

This will force us to borrow even more money, and lead to an even larger deficit.

The state must assume responsibility for covering uncollected taxes for all school districts.

One of the avenues I believe we should be exploring especially during these tough economic times is a centralized Board of Education. We need consolidation to cut costs.

We have too many school districts. Our teachers are over worked and underpaid, while the salaries of countless superintendents and administrators are in the scale of $150,000 per year.

Merging schools districts can be cost effective, synergize programs, and avoid duplication. Integration of purchasing and contractor services could also save taxpayers huge amounts of monies.

Gunther is on target when she speaks about our educational leaders, “This group of superintendents and school board members work well together and spend their time looking toward the future and working on finding real solutions for our students.”

Hopefully Commissioner Steiner and Chancellor Tisch left Sullivan County understanding the needs of our schools and how important it is to reduce mandates and receive proper state funding.

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