The Beacon School Board has a special public meeting planned for 8:30 this evening at the High School. Up for discussion are whether or not cuts should be made to the budget and what, if any, services should be eliminated in the 2006-7 school year and whether or not the budget should be put to a second vote sometime in June.
To put this into some kind of perspective, as of this year with a budget that passed last May, the district elementary schools had to make cutbacks and share several teachers between schools. Phys Ed., Instrumental, and Choral Music teachers have spent the year rotating between all the elementary schools. During the last school year these same teachers were working full-time at one district school, giving students more comprehensive Phys Ed. and Music educations.
Over at the Beacon, NY discussion board, folks are discussing today's editorial in the Poughkeepsie Journal about the shellacking (sp?) school budgets took in yesterday's elections. According to PoJo, Dutchess County had the highest rate of rejection in the state. Here's a snippet of one comment:
"School spending is increasing close to 10% in this years budget but yet
none of that is going into new programs for students. The new spending
is almost exclusively needed to pay for the increased cost of benefits
and pensions for teachers. The Journal is correct in that local school
boards need to negotiate contracts that will increase the amount that
teachers are asked to contribute for the cost of their benefits. They
are also correct in that the Pension system needs reform and action
needs to be taken in Albany to bring that about. Teachers need to be
asked to contribute more across the board for the cost of their
pensions and benefits. As stated in the editorial this morning those of
us who work in the private sector are already contributing heavily to
support our benefits and pensions and certainly at a level that far
exceeds the level of contribution by teachers. The union leadership and
in particular NYSUT does not want to hear this and will turn a deaf ear
to this argument but they have to face the reality of the times.
Taxpayers can no longer afford the luxury of generous benefit and
pension packages for teachers."
Edwin Lee Gibson Recieves Award for his Role in The Seven
Take a look at the cover of the latest Village Voice and what you'll see is the visage of Beacon's own Edwin Lee Gibson. Gibson, who we featured as a Beacon Voice a few months ago, received a great review in the NY Times and has how received an Obie for his performance in Will Power's The Seven. The Obies are awards that honor performances in Off-Broadway productions.
Dan Shapley has an interesting piece in today's Poughkeepsie Journal about the Beacon Institute. When asked about state support for the Beacon Institute (formerly known as the Rivers & Estuaries Center), a spokesperson for Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer said:
"Attorney General Spitzer has been a strong
advocate for cleaning up the Hudson River and will be evaluating the
various tools that the state can use to ensure a cleaner, more vibrant
river for the future. Many existing organizations are currently doing
essential research on the Hudson River and we will evaluate whether or
not money should be appropriated to the Beacon Institute as we would
with any other state spending. The key thing is that there be
accountability and transparency if state dollars are being used."
Not exactly a strong endorsement. Could this mean an end to eight years of state support Beacon has enjoyed under George Pataki? Will the Democrat, Spitzer, see the Beacon Institute as political pork in a traditionally Republican county?
But states that COB nepotism law is invalid for civil service positions and may be invalid in other instances as well
The Federal Court for the Southern District of New York has dismissed Richard Sassi, Jr.'s defamation claim stating that, in the context of the complaint, the claim had no merit. At the same time Judge Brieant stated that the City's nepotism law was invalid with regard to civil service positions and that the law may be invalid in other instances as well.
Richard Sassi, Jr's suit alleged that Councilman Kyriacou conspired with the Mayor, City Administrator, and all members of the City Council to terminate his father's employment with the City and, failing in that effort, created a new nepotism law in order to, "...retaliate against the Plaintiff by prohibiting his promotion within the Police Department so long as his father remained the Chief of Police." The suit also stated that the sole target of the new nepotism law was Richard Sassi, Jr., and that, on various occasions, Councilman Kyriacou attempted to defame Sassi, Jr. with the intent of harming his police career.
The judge ruled that, while the nepotism law was invalid, the Council, with regard to statements made about Sassi, Jr., was, "...acting within its legislative function...," and that Sassi, Jr. is not entitled to any monetary compensation from any of the council members, the Mayor, administrator, or the City as a result of their actions. But the judge’s ruling does state that Sassi Jr.’s claims are still valid with regard to the nepotism law itself, which may, at some future point, require the nepotism law to be rescinded.
This past Saturday the Stony Kill Foundation and the Hudson Valley Draft Horse Association sponsored a day of farming to remind us what life was like before there were tractors. It was quite a spectacle -- I never knew mules were so huge. And apparently not so bright -- but I guess you don't have to be to pull a plow in a straight line. Check out this photo gallery for some shots of the day.