Organisciak to Balance School Budget on Backs of School Children and New Rochelle Families

Written By: Robert Cox

Even though he lied to her in a previous story about Trinity School, Diana Costello had no problem ringing up her old pal Richard Organisciak for a quote. Costello has a story up on Gov. Patterson’s proposed decreases in increases in local school funding from New York State.

“Sitting here right now, I couldn’t see how this wouldn’t make its way into the classroom,” said New Rochelle Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak, whose district would lose $3.2 million and see a 2 percent drop from last year’s aid. “That shakes me up a little bit.”


– Teacher salaries and benefits are the biggest chunk of the school district’s budget. The teachers union contract negotiations begin this month.

– How about looking for some concessions from the teachers union?

– How about shrinking the bureaucracy by cutting the bloated administrative staff in the district?

– How about ending the practice of double-dipping whereby non-teaching staff call in sick during the week then work weekends to make up the work at double-time so they are being for three days of work when they work one?

– How about not funding education for students from the Bronx and Mount Vernon by hiring retired police detectives to verify residency? You can start by looking into the Barnard Magnet School where I am told there are even some Larchmont residents who send their kids to Barnard.

– How about cracking down on Special Education Tourism where families from outside the United States “shop” for pliant school districts in America (like New Rochelle) and then bring their children into the country illegally so New Rochelle taxpayers can foot the bill for special education programs costing tens of thousands of dollars per child.

I have heard that as many as 10% of the students in New Rochelle do not meet the residency requirement. New Rochelle pays over $16,000 a year per child. Let’s say that is off by 1,000% and just 1% of the students enrolled in New Rochelle are not actually supposed to be in New Rochelle schools. That would be about $2,000,000 in savings right there. The real number is likely far higher so hiring a few qualified detectives might result in huge costs savings.

6 thoughts on “Organisciak to Balance School Budget on Backs of School Children and New Rochelle Families”

  1. Glad we got that settled.

    Glad we got that settled.

    So if teachers salaries and benefits are the biggest chunk of the budget then you have two choices to reduce spending – get rid of teachers or do not increase salaries and benefits of teachers. Because of tenure and seniority, getting rid of teachers means getting rid of non-tenured/part-time teachers which, I believe, what Organisciak means by “making its way into the classroom”. Since these teachers get paid far less you need to get rid of more of them to get the cost savings. The union negotiations are just now getting started this month. Instead of getting rid of teachers they could also negotiate smaller increases in pay and benefits for ALL teachers which spread the pain around and keep more teachers in the school.

    In other words, rather than opt for less teachers and therefore higher student-teacher ratios and more crowded classrooms they could opt for taking on the union to look for across the board reductions in increases in teacher pay to spread the impact around to all teachers.

    City Limits WEEKLY #385
    June 9, 2003

    Education officials say that the federal No Child Left Behind law mandates the end of an innovative school that helps immigrant young people get settled; electeds fight to keep it open. > By John Tozzi

    An innovative Manhattan high school lauded for its work with immigrants may be revamped soon, leaving adrift the kind of students it currently serves.
    Liberty High School, in Chelsea, has for years been a one-year transitional school serving just-off-the-boat young people — some as old as 20 — with less than eighth-grade education. Now the Department of Education is planning to turn Liberty into a four-year institution for students who are no older than 18 and have eight or more years of schooling. The school’s superintendent says the change has been planned for years. But Liberty’s principal and several politicians are crying foul — they say schools administrators are pressing for change because they are misinterpreting the federal No Child Left Behind legislation.

    Today Liberty has some 500 students from 60 countries. All are taught English, and bilingual classes are available for Chinese, Spanish and Polish speakers. Students learn survival skills such as how to talk on the phone and search for an apartment. After a year, they are steered to magnet high schools or GED programs.

    Last summer, the Board of Ed told school officials that Liberty would become a four-year high school for immigrants younger than 19 with at least a middle-school education. All others will be sent to neighborhood high schools.

    But high schools often deny admission to older applicants. When they do enroll, immigrants are frequently shunned by their more acculturated peers.

    According to Liberty’s principal and union representatives, the superintendent said retooling was needed to comply with No Child. The state education department has explained that the No Child law requires schools to evaluate students’ progress — a difficult task for a one-year program.

    But many politicos say state and federal officials have informed them that the No Child law does not require Liberty to change. Representative Jerrold Nadler, State Senator Tom Duane, Assemblymember Richard Gottfried and Councilmember Christine Quinn have all urged that Liberty be kept as is. In a letter sent to Chancellor Joel Klein last month, they called the school “unique” and “powerful,” and asserted that under No Child, it “can maintain its status as a one-year program.”

    In explaining the proposed change at Liberty, said Nadler spokesperson Daryl Cochrane, schools officials cited No Child: “It was clearly the reason they were using, and no other.”

    But Richard Organisciak, superintendent of alternative schools, said the plan to make Liberty a four-year school began five years ago — long before No Child became law.

    Liberty principal Bruce Schnur said district officials had previously discussed the reorganization, but he resisted. Then, he adds, “Last year I was told that because of [No Child], we would have to change to a four-year school.”

    There’s a chance Liberty will prevail: A meeting scheduled for Monday between school officials and the incoming district superintendent in charge of alternative schools will determine if some compromise can be reached.

    “The teachers of this school feel a glimmer of hope,” said Carol Yankay, a Liberty teacher and United Federation of Teachers chapter leader, because Chancellor Klein’s department seems friendlier than its predecessor “to a more creative approach to educating newly arrived students.”

    Read this Newsday article. Organisciak’s reign in New Rochelle will distroy our school district.

    Abuse charge ends Deer Park’s JV hoopsJV basketball player arrested, season canceled after he’s accused of abusing JV basketball player arrested, season canceled after he’s accused of abusing younger teammate

    A Deer Park High School junior varsity basketball player was arrested Monday for allegedly abusing a younger teammate, days after school officials suspended him and two other players, canceled the season and removed the team’s coach from his teaching duties.

    The 14-year-old sophomore player was charged as a juvenile with wrestling to the ground the younger boy — an eighth-grader at Robert Frost Middle School promoted to the high school team this year — after a practice last week and touching “a private part of the victim without his consent,” Suffolk police said in a prepared statement.

    At least two older teammates were involved in the locker-room attack, police said, while school officials have suspended three sophomores, including the 14-year-old, as part of a district investigation of what Superintendent Richard Organisciak said may have been a pattern of bullying and physical harassment of the 13-year-old eighth-grader, including poking the boy’s buttocks.

    Police and school officials said the boys were clothed at the time of the incident, the eighth-grader was not injured and the 14-year-old was released to his family’s custody pending an appearance in family court.

    “It was touching that would clearly be considered inappropriate and sexual,” said Det. Lt. James Maher, commander of the First Squad detectives. “If we thought it was horseplay, it probably wouldn’t have risen to the level of an arrest.”

    If he were an adult, the 14-year-old would have been charged with forcible touching, a misdemeanor, Maher said.

    A school disciplinary hearing is scheduled for Thursday to determine if further action should be taken against the three boys who have been suspended. Meanwhile, the team’s coach, Justin Gutman, a social studies teacher at the high school, has been re-assigned outside the classroom until the district’s investigation is complete, Organisciak said.

    “We need to send a very strong message,” Organisciak said Monday of the district’s actions. The school board, which has endorsed the moves, will formally approve the season’s cancellation at a meeting tonight.

    Gutman said Monday that he did not know about the boy’s situation until his parents reported it last week.

    “It was the first time that I’d heard of any problems,” Gutman said. “I immediately called my athletic director and took it to the next level. I handled the problem right away.”

    It is the first time a Long Island school district has taken the dramatic step of canceling a team’s season since the brutal hazing of several junior varsity football players from Mepham High School in Bellmore in 2003.

    “I think there’s definitely a heightened sense of awareness [since the Mepham case],” Organisciak said. “After all was said and done, it really became clear to me that the season could not go forward with the kind of integrity that you would want to attach to it.”

    The 13-year-old was a starter on the team, which was made up mostly of sophomores, school officials said. The boy’s mother declined to comment Monday, as did the parents of several players contacted by Newsday. The newspaper is not identifying the boy because he is a juvenile, and may be the victim of a sexual crime.

    School officials said that the boy’s mother first contacted the district’s athletic director Jan. 17, complaining about her son’s treatment by the team.

    The next day, one of the boy’s former coaches, who also teaches at Robert Frost, noticed he seemed down. Later that day, the boy told the former coach that he had been punched, hit and otherwise physically harassed by older boys on the team on several occasions since the season started last November.

    By Thursday, Organisciak and the school board had suspended the three players, re-assigned the coach and posted a letter on the district’s Web site notifying parents that the season would be canceled.

    Joan Bryson, mother of two children, one at Robert Frost and the other at the high school, said she supports the district’s hard line.

    “Absolutely they should cancel the season,” Bryson said as she waited to pick up her daughter at the middle school Monday. “The schools are supposed to protect our kids. They are supposed to keep them safe.”

    Staff writer William Murphy contributed to this story.

    Copyright (c) 2006, Newsday, Inc.

    1. Good job
      It sounds to me as though the superintendent handled the situation very well. Thanks for sharing this information. I now feel a renewed sense of trust in our superintendent, knowing that he took firm action regarding this terrible behavior on the part of students in his former district.

  4. Slow death for Brooklyn high school
    Richard Organisciak is nothing but a hack. The City School District of New Rochelle along with City Hall Officials better get rid of him before he makes The New Rochelle Public Schools suffer how EBC/East New York High School suffered under his watch.

    Read the artical:


    Thursday, December 27th 2007, 4:00 AM

    It was supposed to be an antidote to the violence and failure of east Brooklyn’s large high schools.

    But 14 years after it opened in an old sewing factory with so much promise, EBC/East New York High School for Public Safety and Law is closing – a dismal failure, disowned even by its earliest advocates.

    Teachers, former staff and founders attribute the decline to an unattractive setting, high teacher turnover and a community-based organization’s decision to pull out of the foundering project.

    “There was hope that something could happen,” said Carmelia Goffe, a school founder. “You really have to have that commitment from parents, teachers, everyone. I don’t feel that was happening toward the end.”

    In the early 1990s, East Brooklyn Congregations wanted to create smaller schools to combat problems in the area’s larger high schools.

    The idea gained traction one winter morning in 1992, when two students were shot dead inside nearby Thomas Jefferson High School hours before former Mayor David Dinkins was to visit.

    Founding Principal Genevieve Richards-Wright remembers the excitement when the school, which has 538 students, opened in 1993.

    “We turned a lot of lives around of kids who would have fallen through the cracks,” said Richards-Wright, who left in 1999. But the school was housed in a dark, drab old factory surrounded by parking lots, car services and warehouses.

    “It didn’t jump out at you, it didn’t have any park or field in front,” said Richard Organisciak, then superintendent of District 79, which oversaw the school.

    By 2003, when the school’s low math scores put it on the state’s failing list, cracks had begun to show. A state report said a third of the teachers were either uncertified or had less than two years’ experience.

    Soon fewer criminal-justice courses were offered, and partnerships with the NYPD and John Jay College fizzled. The school made headlines in 2004, when its then-principal was accused of naming failing kids over the loudspeaker.

    By 2006, East Brooklyn Congregations’ board had voted to sever its ties, telling education officials the relationship with the school was “limited and one-sided.”

    “It became clear to us that the school was not going to improve,” said Ray Domanico, senior education adviser to East Brooklyn Congregations. “There wasn’t a successful effort to create a team, and there wasn’t a real vision.”

    From EBC’s perspective, school staffers weren’t treating them as partners and resisted new strategies and change.

    Richards-Wright, the first principal, believes education officials made a mistake by not grooming principals from among staffers who knew EBC’s “ethics and values.”

    She also faults EBC for not seeing the project through.

    “The people and the community who founded a school should always help to keep the vision alive and make sure that is the cornerstone,” she said.

    There were some bright spots, but school attendance is a dismal 71.4% and 37 staffers have left in the past three years.

    Last month, the school got a D on the city’s first-ever progress reports, and the Dec. 4 closing notice has totally demoralized students.

    “They didn’t give the school enough of a chance,” said 18-year-old Sable McGee, a senior. Organisciak, now the superintendent in New Rochelle, sees EBC/East New York as a cautionary tale for new small schools. “If you have an external partner, are they willing to stay with you in the bad times and the good times?” he asked. “And are you willing to change?”

  5. “Teacher salaries and
    “Teacher salaries and benefits are the biggest chunk of the school district’s budget.”

    Of course they are. Education is about educators teaching students….that’s what you pay for, teacher’s salaries. What percentage of fees paid to physicians or lawyers or plumbers or electricians pay for their expertise? Most of it. It’s the same with educators.

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