NRHS PTA President Emery Schweig Says Economic Crisis “Temporary”, Demands Voters “Suck It Up” and Approve Budget

Written By: Robert Cox

BBFD58A8-B745-4F09-8495-560354D5CA6C.jpgIn a contentions school board meeting, residents, parents, school board candidates and PTA officials appeared for the New Rochelle School Board to comment on the district’s proposed $230mm budget, the largest in the history of New Rochelle and one of the largest ever in Westchester County.

The most impassioned plea came from Ms. Emery Schweig, current president of the New Rochelle High School PTA and candidate for Member, Library Board of Trustees; New Rochelle City School District. In her remarks last night, Schweig referenced concerns expressed by New Rochelle residents over the past several school board meetings – people who have spoken of their fears of losing their jobs and their homes in what President Obama has called the worst financial crisis of the Great Depression. She proceeded to ridicule those concerns by calling the current economic situation “temporary” then emphatically demanding that voters to “suck it up” and approve a budget loaded with wasteful spending, expanded teacher pay and benefits, and millions of dollars in new programs.

Other highlights from the Board meeting.

Four of the five school board candidates were present last night and three of them – Jeff Hasty, Dr. Jack Wagner and Vincent Malfatano – spoke on the budget. Hasty in support of the budget, Wagner and Malfatano opposed.

Mr. Malfatano got into a heated exchanged when School Board President Cindy Babcock-Deutsch initially refused to recognize Malfatano who wished to speak a second time on the budget after all who wished to speak on the budget had been recognized.

Malfatano received an enthusiastic response when he proposed that any parent of children enrolled in the public school system be allowed to vote on the school budget and for school board seats regardless of their immigration or citizenship status.

The PTA presidents from each school in the district spoke, each to announce that their school’s PTA council had voted to support the school budget (“dog bites man”).

I spoke and made a few points: (1) I expressed my concern over the lack of parking at New Rochelle High School — now that employees or no longer using them as their personal vehicles they are being parked near the new wing; (2) that in light of our reporting on the misappropriation of school vehicles, the district should install lo-jack type devices to track there whereabouts of district vehicles; (3) I asked Organiciak about the union negotiations — whether there would be a pay freeze or any teachers fired. Cindy spoke and said she was not going to let him answer because it was illegal. I then asked if that was the case why he answered that exact question for the Journal News. She responded by implying that he was misquoted. I followed up by asking whether a correction had been requested. She refused to respond. I sent an email to the reporter, Aman Ali, asking him to respond to this allegation. I do not expects a reply but will update this post if I get one.

B1127BC7-4A94-402D-9B77-737D0A1E4A2B.jpgIf you would like to support Ms. Schweig in the upcoming election, her campaign can be reached as follows:

Emery Schweig Campaign Contact Information
Phone: 914-886-2008
Fax: 914-833-0922

Schweig for Library Board
26 Stone Cabin Road
New Rochelle, NY 10801

Biographical Highlights

  • Occupation: Parent, education/youth advocate
  • Co-President, NRHS PTSA (2007-2009)
  • Secretary, NR Branch NAACP (2006-2008)
  • President, Museum Service Council of the Neuberger Museum of Art (2006-2008)
  • Docent, Neuberger Museum of Art (2000-2008)
  • Commercial Litigator, private practice in NYC (1987-1994)
  • Judicial Law Clerk, Appellate Division, 2d Dept. (1985-87)

Top Priorities if Elected

  • Preserve and improve the current resources, programs and services of the New Rochelle Pulbic Library.
  • Encourage mutual support between the NRPL and the New Rochelle community.
  • Promote the NRPL as a critical resource for literacy and life-long learning.

33 thoughts on “NRHS PTA President Emery Schweig Says Economic Crisis “Temporary”, Demands Voters “Suck It Up” and Approve Budget”

  1. Shortly the taxpayer will
    Shortly the taxpayer will get a budget news from the district indicating that you need to approve the proposed school budget or else dire consequences such as having NYS dictate how contingency funds must be spent and that the district could potentially face a lower credit rating and thus, negatively impact savings on debt and contract renegotiations. What utter nonsense! You are talking about a reduction of about $330,000 off of a $222.3 million dollar budget. You are further led to believe that this would impact the ability to acquire debt when needed (not a chance — unless of course a lender sees profligate spending or poor money management in the past — which is a risk given a district with our lack of expense management skill. And, don’t fall for into the pit of despair over union contract renegotiations. There is little in the way of collective bargaining; the June contract is likely already put to bed as evident by the long standing relationship between FUSE and the District; Romeo and Juliet were never closer.

    So they will tell you that the 3.22% increase is the lowest tax rate increase in over 10 years. So what! It should be flat. Organisciak and his direct reports could have waived increases, budget heads could have done much better than turning off computers and lights out at night. Come on — a simple urging to find 5% or so by budget service line would have taken care of that — yes including unfunded mandates and the refusal (due to contract?) of senior district management to waive increases. We excoriated AIG people for accepting bonuses which were part of their basic compensation plan and these were contractual. We footed that bill and got indignant and should apply the same logic to the District as we also are footing over 75% of that bill. Dr Wagner was correct in stating that the district did very little to manage the budget.

    The crowing over being 40th lowest out of 43 districts in per capita expenditures looks better than it really is. It would help if you knew just what the average per capita expenditure per student was nationwide. NYS ranks among the highest and you will find that our district per capita is higher than most of the states in the union. What it doesn’t mean is that our kids receive a better education or perform better than most of the districts in the union. As a matter of fact, if you compare our results at all levels including the high school to other high schools in westchester county alone, you will be disappointed. While you are at it, forget this Newsweek nonsense — it hardly qualifies as a measure of district performance. You need to look closely at the criteria as well as the source. Ask NYS Deparment of Education for their views on the subject. Lets see that in print from the District.

    So we are proud that we have a college acceptance rate of 95%. Getting accepted into a college is not a problem given the vast number of choices available as well as the depressed economy. The challenge really is getting our kids to graduate after four years of schooling. What is our graduation rate and how does it compare to the past decade?

    Nice of the district to suggest that the state will tell you how to spend a contingency budget. That is typical scare tactics bull. All they would do is to look closely at discretionary items like team sport equipment, non-core courses, etc. to ensure that nothing of substance falls under the table. And, how sadly opportunistic it is to see the district cite a so-called State contingency budget cap of 4%. Has that really be enacted into law or is that part of a proposed overall scheme (along with other provisions on STAR renewal and income tax indexing) that are under review as part of the State Controller and the Suozzo Commission report. Ask Amy Paulin and George Latimer if we have a mandated contingency budget cap at this time.

    The facts are simple and the defense of a budget increase is shallow and presented poorly. Simple questions about contract negotiations are masked by the nonsense of “its illegal” to tell the voter what is going on. That is not fully the truth. The district can report on areas under contract negotiation without disclosing any specifics about offers and counteroffers. Ask yourself if you know more about General Motors and the UAW negotiations than you do about FUSE and the District. Of course you do.

    Is Bob Cox correct in his assertion that the district is rife with students who do not reside herein. Likely so — the board and apologists have been silent on the issue. That would go a long way; in fact, all the way in closing any budget gap.

    I am not boasting when I tell you that I could identify $300.000 in cost reduction pretty damn quickly without doing any harm to the education of our students. I am pretty sure that Dr. Wagner could as well. So vote for him and vote NO for the budget and for any sitting board member who has supported this inefficiency for so many years.

    Warren Gross

  2. you are shortly going to
    you are shortly going to receive a public relations push from the school district in support of the proposed 3.22% budget increase. As usual the rationale is questionable at best, ludicrous at worse. You will hear that it is the lowest rate increase in the past 12 years: so what? As Dr.Wagner suggests, a little more effort could have pared significant money from a bloated budget: turning out lights and turning off computers is hardly a proper response. Perhaps some cuts in non-classroom staff costs– beginning with turning off Richard Organisciak’s increase would have been something to boast about. Being 40th in spending out of 43 NYS per capita expenses is nothing to crow about — check the per capita student expense in this state and you will quickly see how out of line it is with reality; reality representing most of the rest of the nation. If Mr Cox is right and it seems like it is; a proper response to the voter would have outlined a plan to ensure district residency for all students. Do that and you will get the attention of the taxpayer. As far as the State Contingency Budget Cap is concerned lets reserve judgement until it becomes state law. At this point you are simply baying at the moon.

    Oh please, by now any serious analysis of student results totally discount any Newsweek ranking which is not at all based on student achievement. You might want to report on exactly what that criteria is and go further and see whether high school academic results are in the top 5% of the State. Easy enough to ascertain and a much more meaningful measure than Newsweek.

    A college acceptance rate is nice but a graduation rate is much better. Getting into a college is not that difficult as there are many two year as well as four year colleges to choose from especially during difficult economic times. What is our graduation rate and has it changed for the better or worse over the past decade?

    I am happy to see a favorable classroom average and as a taxpayer would support funding to keep it that way; I only hope that the measuring indicator is correct.

    Your alternative budget scare message is, frankly, sad. If I am correct it only amounts to something like a reduction of $300,000; not much given a $222.3 million dollar budget. There is no chance of a lower credit rating given the scenario of such a modest, cost effective budget management outcome. Stop this nonsense: it is despicable. Again, freezing top administration salaries (despite the so-called contract rules) coupled with a modest demand on budget managers to reduce spending by a fractional amount, takes care of that pronto. If Richard and his direct reports demand to stick to contract terms, fine, just let us know like the world heard about those bad folk at AIG who also had contract terms.

    Vote NO to the budget, vote NO re: any board incumbent running for office, vote NO for the PTA nominee who is purely status quo — vote YES for Dr. Wagner and take your chances on anyone else.

    warren gross

    1. Warren,
      I have uploaded and


      I have uploaded and linked the “Budget News” propaganda the district is mailing to every voter. It is a joke but sadly few people know any better and most genuinely can not believe the district would like to them.

      Go back and read this post:

      Within that post you will see a hyperlink to click on that reads “2009 New Rochelle Budget News”.

      You mentioned the Newsweek item in their mailer. Hysterical, considering that at the recent board meeting at Ward School, the Superintendent recommended to the board that the District NOT COMPLY with the Newsweek survey this year because it supposedly does not believe that “one number” adequately reflects the quality of education in a high school. Of course, they like he number fine when New Rochelle did well but after last year when they dropped behind schools like Eastchester they threw a hissy fit.

      I have worked for and written for Newsweek. I contacted the author of the annual Newsweek study, Jay Matthews. I told him that the Superintendent told the board that many school districts were refusing to participate. Jay told me it was a few dozen out of thousands. Ironically, the district that led this so-called “revolt” was Armonk. After Jay spoke with them about it they changed their mind and DID participate.

      Funny how one month the District is voting to refuse to comply with the Newsweek survey and then citing the same survey as a reason to support the budget.

      The only way to appreciate how often this District lies is to listen to everything they say and read everything they write. What anyone who does this will find is that they CONSTANTLY lie. There was at least half-dozen whoppers told at the school board meeting on Tuesday.

      But, as we have agreed — people get the government they deserve.

  3. tell the teachers and other
    tell the teachers and other New Rochelle school officials, administrators to “suck it up” for once. They should be thankful that no one in the school district was laid off and they still have a job. Shame on them that they can’t sacrifice one time and forgo a raise since as Ms Schweig mentioned this economy downturn is only “temporary”.

    1. Exactly right. Why is it
      Exactly right. Why is it that the tax payers are always the ones who have to ‘suck it up’? They must think we’re suckers. Well, think again.

    2. Your so right. It does not
      Your so right. It does not feel “temporary” when your living it. And you would only hope that your own school goverment would care. But really, why should they, when most of our school employees don’t live here in New Rochelle. We’re just their meal ticket to higher salaries. It truly sad.

    3. Really? Suck-it up? It’s
      Really? Suck-it up? It’s hard to believe that a former litigator wouldn’t have a much better command of the English language. Especially one who is running for Library Trustee.

  4. What’s up with the pot leaf
    What’s up with the pot leaf by Emery Schweig contact info?

  5. Of course it’s my opinion.
    Of course it’s my opinion. It’s my post. I am entitled my opinion just as you are entitled to yours. There is absolutely nothing preventing you from registering and then writing a post articulating the reason you support the budget. Likewise, you can write comments like the one above.

    Supporting public school education, supporting this particular budget or this administration are not all the same thing. It apparently does not occur to you that it is possible to be be in favor of public education and take issue with how the school board functions and how the district is run.

    It seems to me that the goal should be to give New Rochelle students the best possible learning experience in the best possible learning environment. Blindly approving every spending request made by the administration — kowtowing to the teachers union all the while — does not, in my view accomplish that.

  6. School Board Candidate Dr.
    School Board Candidate Dr. Jack Wagner to appear on New Rochelle News & Views Radio Program hosted by Bruce Negrin. Thursday Night May 7 at 8 pm on WVOX 1460 am or

    1. Listening to Mr. Wagner on
      Listening to Mr. Wagner on VOX this evening, not even half way through the program, I made my decision. Vote for Dr. Jack Wagner, he makes good sense.

  7. I don’t think that
    I don’t think that non-citizens should get to vote even in a school budget vote.

    1. If they pay school property
      If they pay school property tax don’t they deserve representation? Somehow I recall a late 18th century revolt was started over that very issue.

      1. The BRITISH Colonists
        The BRITISH Colonists believed they were not being represented in their own BRITISH Parliament of which they were rightfully CITIZENS. They were citizens of ENGLAND, and felt they were being illegally denied their rights as ENGLISHMEN. Therefore, NR Objectionist, to answer your question, the prerequisite for representation would have to be citizenship, otherwise, anyone would be able to ‘buy’ a vote with their checkbook under the guise of ‘taxpayer’. (You don’t need to be a citizen to buy property.)

      2. You’re correct, but
        You’re correct, but unfortunately New Rochelle has too many illegals living here. The constitution protects our CITIZENS from outsiders.

      3. Citizenship comes with
        Citizenship comes with responsibilities as well, including the possibility of being drafted and serving on juries. Voting is a priviledge granted to citizens. Everyone has to pay taxes that works here.

        It is discouraging, however, to see than many people avoid paying taxes. Even members of the president’s cabinet failed to pay taxes. Also, so many people work “off the books” and don’t contribute as they legally should.

    2. Does Mr. Malfatano think
      Does Mr. Malfatano think non-citizens should get to vote in a presidential election? Maybe he should re-think his position on this one.

  8. emery represents the worse
    emery represents the worse kind of individual who makes his or her way into a position of influence or responsibility in the school district. this person seems incapable of critical thought, intolerant of the hardships experienced by all too many voters who have no direct stake in the district; such as owners or shareholders who are senior citizens or childless, unable to either see what is entailed in expense management or budget oversight, and the very model of what the Arne Duncan, President Obamas Secretary of Education means when he says the need for professional management and oversight, results driven and responsive to the voter is required for our education business proposition and the welfare and future of our young people to compete in the global economy. “temporary? by such logic you could dismiss an entire spectrum of corrective actons by rationalizing that only death and yes, school taxes are not temporary — the latter at least in new rochelle. What was it that Dickens or Samuel Johnson said that the law was? I’m sure some one out there can fill in the gap.

    Plus she leaves a great deal to be desired as a citizen of New Rochelle; obviously an elitist, small minded, tolerant of the unacceptable size of our one high school, dismissive of falling graduation rates and overall performance of our students vis their counterparts throughout the county, state and country. As I said once before, you get the government you deserve and the HS PTA obviously fits this bill if they elect such a myoptic and dismissive person such as Schweig. It is shocking to read her vitae and relate that to her economic rationale for voting for the budget as presented and alarming that she would not use her legal background to counter the foolhardy point made by Ms. Deutsch that a follow-up question on whether the board would address a pay issue in “contract negotiations” with the union would be “illegal.” The board is representing the taxpayer in these negotiations; the question is general and not specific to anything on the table, the contract terms are likely resolved as this is clearly a “sweetheart contractual” arrangement given Mr Daly’s position in the PTA as well as his prior documented response to taxpayer queries as reported by the Journal News in 2008 at a prior presentation on that years’ proposed school tax increase; point being if the position of FUSE and the School Board was adversarial by law (even if cordial by nature), his response, even presence, would have likely been looked at very differently by the NLRB even if not by the State counterpart.

    I certainly will make it a point to tell my many colleagues, friends and neighbors not to vote for Emery Schweig who lacks cordiality, empathy, and legal temperment. The ability to critically reason seems to be lacking as well — perhaps we need far fewer attorneys on boards with oversight responsibiities and the evidence of this can be seen in the scarcity of this profession occupying CEO chairs in profit and loss industries. In one recent case, many have pointed the finger at Chuck Prince Esq for running Citigroup into the ground. You talk about slippery slopes!

    And, Mr. Hasty is not a good choice given his system inbreeding in the PTA. PTA members are too focused on the status quo and too malleable. Dr Wagner and Mr. Malfetano seem like people we need. I have read some of Dr. Wagner’s views and they are reasoned and germane to the realities of the day and Mr. Malfetano has struck a proper theme for the underrespresented residents of New Roc. Vote for both and lets really support “change.”

    I really hope that all of this becomes less heated in the near future. Emery Schweig is likely a good human being as are many, maybe all of the sitting board members. It is just simply that we live in different times and they are a’changing and they should. I am in my seventies, a proud veteran, supporter of this City and its Mayor, fully committed and responsive to all of our diverse community members and desirous of an open and transparent city-state society similar to what many of our forefathers and well before them, great moral and theological minds, had in mind for society. It does not have to be Utopian, it simply has to be honest and open. Forgive me if I have offended any reader, but we need change and if Ms. Deutsch, Ms Schweig, any incumbent could or would step forward and commit to the community as it is and the city as it intends to be, you would have at least one voter and supporter and that would be me.

    warren gross

    Warren Gross

    1. Mr. Gross I thought your
      Mr. Gross I thought your comments were spot on. I would like to point out that no one from the N.R. School Board takes part in union negotiations. The district negotiation team consists on Margaret Pecunia, Carol Amorello, Stephanie Oliver, John Quinn and Jeff Kehl. Shockingly, the residents of the City are not represented by the people who were elected to represent them. What is of concern, with the exception of Jeff Kehl, all persons participating in the union negotiations are members of unions themselves. We are left with the union negotiating with the union over salaries and benefits. Given that we have a School board in which two thirds of the members are financially illiterate and don’t have the ability to critically review and administer district requests; Is it surprising we are hit with tax increases above the rate of inflation year after year?

  9. That’s your opinion Cox!
    That’s your opinion Cox! Taxpayers like myself and others view the spending as necessary to improve our great city! You represent an old view of what and how our city should do business. You will be defeated in every single one of your bouts with local government.

    1. You must be one of those PTA
      You must be one of those PTA Parents who never grew up here in New Rochelle, that came here just for the school system, then you end up leaving. You don’t care what happens to New Rochelle in the long run. I know some many New Rochelle born people that have left New Rochelle, because taxes are too high. And what Old view are you talking about? If you grew up here you would know that the school buget gets approved EVERY YEAR. If only everyone would vote in New Rochelle the buget would not pass. Everyone is tired of voting, when you know if the buget losses, you have to vote again, and again.

      1. 1st off nobody’s moving to
        1st off nobody’s moving to New Rochelle for the great school district. Nobody. And I mean nobody.

        People move to New Rochelle because housing is cheaper and more affordable; mainly because of our high real estate taxes which seems ironic to me.

      2. You call a quarter of a
        You call a quarter of a million dollars for an apartment cheap????There is no cheap housing in New Rochelle.


      3. $250,000 Cheap
        $250,000 Cheap Comparatively!

        A quarter of a million dollars for an apartment is New Rochelle’s malign. The past and current administrations have created a tax abated, bedroom community where yuppies thrive. $250,000 is a cheap apartment when compared to what they were paying in NYC. The problem is they travel to and from NYC to work and eat while spending weekends out-of-town at the Hampton’s. They benefit from IDA and council approved tax abatements while the homeowner struggles to make up the tax shortfall.

      4. Why move here when the
        Why move here when the district will let you use our schools for free even if you don’t live here? Just drive up from bordering towns like Mt. Vernon or the Bronx, our tax payers don’t mind paying for your children too. After all, we’re used to ‘sucking it up’.

    2. Improve what? We already
      Improve what? We already have good schools and we don’t have to have high taxes to have good schools and Taxpayers like myself are tired of continously paying out. Tax, Tax, Tax, Tax some more, Spend, Spend, Spend spend some more. I’d like to hear about how or what the school district is cutting or saving. How about a 10% across the board reduction?

      Our problem is most people have given up voting and think it doesn’t matter which is rather unfortunate because if everyone voted maybe the budgets wouldn’t pass year after year. But it doesn’t really matter anyway, if the budget does’t pass the contingency budget won’t be much better.

      As I dropped off my $4300 school tax payment last week, I thought to myself where is all this going? And its only half the bill. Maybe that PTA president will “suck it up” and pay my school tax?

      Now remember to Vote No everyone. Just Vote No.

    3. How can this person predict
      How can this person predict that Mr. Cox ‘will be defeated in every single one of’ his ’bouts with local government’? Are you saying ‘you can’t fight city hall’, so don’t even try? Or, that who ever you are, you yield enough power/influence that you will make it your business to see to it that he fails; right or wrong? Sounds a little like a dictatorship to me.

      If YOUR ‘new’ view means turning a blind eye to the so-called ‘necessary spending’, then this tax-payer is choosing to opt out by pushing that ‘old’ lever in the voting booth marked ‘NO’.

    4. Typical North End
      Typical North End Mentality!

      This is typical of the “people with disposable income” the mayor surrounds himself with. These wealthy North Enders are callous and uncaring when it comes to the little people they look down on. They tout New Rochelle’s diversity while segregating themselves from the working Joe’s who are financially below their standard.

      They pay New Rochelle taxes to save tens of thousands of dollars compared to the cost of a private education and then move on to greener pastures never looking back or caring about what happens after they leave.

      Their quality of life priorities are bike lanes, speed humps, community gardens and dog parks. Like Nero they fiddle while New Rochelle burns.

      1. Actually I live in downtown
        Actually I live in downtown New Rochelle which is now a beautiful place to walk around and eat a meal. None of this would’ve been possible without our fantastic mayor Noam Bramson! The only thing he’s guilty of is getting dealt a bad hand at poor economic timing conditions.

      2. Bid Bucks Ploy!
        The downtown

        Bid Bucks Ploy!

        The downtown restaurants are lovely & busy right? So why did the BID institute the BID BUCKS discount program? The economy is a scapegoat for all ills. New Rochelle’s tax increases for the last two years under Bramson’s watch have dwarfed adjoining communities. Instead of walking up Division Street from Hugenot towards Main try walking two blocks in the opposite direction through the day laborer pick-up site and tell me how beautiful it is.

      3. Mayor Bramson’s story is
        Mayor Bramson’s story is totally contrary to your “North Ender” theory. We all want downtown New Rochelle to thrive and it is thriving. This is our city. We are tax payers.

        BTW New Rochelle is NOT burning. The fires are blazing all across America, but not here. If you don’t like New Rochelle, why don’t you move to Detroit or Lansing Michigan. We are in a bubble of wealth thanks to all they rich m.f-er on the north end who pay the most tax.

      4. You are welcome to write an
        You are welcome to write an article on Mayor Bramson’s “story” and make the case for your point of view.

        What I find amusing is that the so-called proponents of New Rochelle who respond to critics cannot articulate a positive vision for what it is they purport to advocate. As is the case here people who have concerns about New Rochelle are told to move somewhere else.

        I believe there is a positive case to be made for New Rochelle. I believe that Mayor Idoni, in particular, did some good things for the City. Noam Bramson has done some good things. The problem is that most of what we get from our so-called “local media” is propaganda and hype. The Journal News is in the bag. Sound Shore Report bill itself as the “official” weekly newspaper of New Rochelle -in other words a news organ of official New Rochelle. The New Rochelle Review and Sound Shore Report exist primarily to sell real estate but also have New Rochelle officials as their contributors, take ads from elected officials and publicly regulated utilities and otherwise are also in the bag.

        This site exists to offer an opportunity for a balanced discussion. Apparently, some people here have gotten so used to sycophantic media coverage that they have confused our local newspapers for an genuine fourth estate.

        Go ahead and make the case for Mayor Bramson if you like but telling people who disagree to move away is hardly the sort of argument that is likely to sway the minds of voters.

        and New Rochelle

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