Tupper Lake school leadership is out of control

To the editor:

At the last school board meeting the board president, Dan Mansfield, said that he didn’t want to get into a discussion with the public about the budget. What? They don’t want to discuss how the board and administration plan to spend our (taxpayers) money? Really?

As I understand the problem facing our school district, it is due to a steep decline in student enrollment (down a couple of hundred in recent years). So therefore, New York says that Tupper Lake must need less money from Albany since you have fewer students. But Tupper Lake administration does not figure that to be the case as expenses have gone up rather than down. They simply say the taxpayers must make up the difference since state aid has gone down.

I can see why they don’t want to discuss the issue with the public.

Unlike superintendents in other districts, Seth McGowan has been acting like Chicken Little telling everyone, “The sky is falling – the sky is falling,” as he publicly says the school situation is dire, but let’s not discuss the budget nor the details with the public. Mr. McGowan is quick to point out they cut a large percentage of the school workforce a few years ago due to the decline in student population and cutbacks in state funds. But he fails to say how many were rehired in subsequent years, bringing expenses back up. When asked about the student-to-teacher ratio, he said he doesn’t know what it presently is. From the reports available, Tupper is approximately a little over 10 students to one teacher. I’ll bet most of us (present taxpayers) had more than 10 kids in class when we went through school.

Also brought to light during the board discussion was that the elementary school psychologist was resigning but will be replaced. Anybody remember having a psychologist when in elementary school or even high school? The board does not want to talk about transportation, consolidation, shared services, insurance, nor the civic center. They simply want us to pay more in taxes.

Board member Mr. Ellis says he would like to see something less than a 9.5 percent increase. The village of Saranac Lake, where he is treasurer, has less than a 3 percent increase – better check what Saranac Lake is doing.

The environmentalists have so far halted the ACR project, but if it ever gets off the ground, then the board says people will be reluctant to buy without high-quality schools, so we can’t afford to cut. News flash – the majority of people who will buy property at the ACR will be seasonal residents and will not be sending their kids to Tupper schools.

Is there any taxpayer in Tupper Lake who has not seen their school taxes significantly increase over the last few years, even though the number of students has significantly decreased? I believe if you take the time to check, your school tax has increased more than 20 percent in the last four years with a huge decrease in student population. So if we lose more students next year, how much higher will our taxes be?

This board and the associated administration are out of control – you (the Tupper Lake taxpayers) should speak up. Enough is enough!

Lorraine Lewis