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Ethics leans towards decisions based upon individual character, and the more subjective understanding of right and wrong by individuals. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Integrity as the quality of being honest and fair, and Conflict of Interest is defined as a conflict between the private interests and the official responsibilities of a person in a position of trust. At the last meeting on September 15, , the president of the board of education, Mr. Castricone revisited his request of the health insurance opt-out program within the school district.

The first time Mr. Castricone proposed the insurance opt-out idea was in the April 2, board of education meeting. It was explained to the board by then superintendent Bohlke, that this was a negotiated item in the union contract and that the school attorney should be consulted. Now there is a new board and a new opportunity.

At first glance, this idea of increasing the amount of money for the opt-out option looks like it could save the district money, however, the work needs to be done to see if this is actually the case, and if it is legal. Castricone, a school board member, could potentially benefit financially, this is a direct conflict of interest. Heavner mentioned at the September 15, board meeting that this could save the district tens of thousands of dollars.

An actual cost analysis needs to be done and presented to the public. The General Municipal Law requires all school boards to adopt a code of ethics for the guidance of its officers and employees that sets forth the standards of conduct reasonably expected of them. I further request the superintendent of schools, a chief executive officer of the district, distribute a copy of the code of ethics to every district officer and employee and ensure that the district post a copy of the provisions of the General Municipal Law regarding conflicts of interest in each public building in a place conspicuous to its officers and employees.

Castricone did mention at the meeting that he is not sure if this endeavor is even possible and that he had a call into the district attorney but had not heard back by the time of the meeting. The topic has been tabled and will be revisited at a future meeting.

What is a conflict of interest? The term conflict of interest describes a situation in which a school board member, district officer, or employee is in a position to benefit financially from a decision he or she may make on behalf of the district through the exercise of official authority or disposing of public funds.

Financial interests that are prohibited by law include:. Interest is defined as a direct or indirect financial or material benefit that accrues to the officer or employee as a result of a contract with the school district Gen. The General Municipal Law expressly makes the provisions regarding conflicts of interest applicable to school districts Gen. Contract is defined to include any claim, , or demand against, or agreement, express or implied, as well as the deation of a depository of public funds or a newspaper for use by the school district Gen.

In what instances would a board member, district officer, or employee have an interest that could result in a prohibited conflict of interest? A school board member, district officer, or employee is deemed to have an interest in a firm, partnership, or association of which he or she is a member or employee; a corporation of which he or she is an officer, director, or employee; or a corporation in which he or she owns or directly or indirectly controls any stock Gen. Is a school board member, district officer or employee required to publicly disclose an interest even if it is not a prohibited interest?

Except as otherwise provided in law, such individuals are required to publicly disclose, in writing, any interest they or their spouse may have, will have, or later acquire in any actual or proposed contract; purchase agreement; lease agreement; or other agreement involving the district, including oral agreements, even if the interest is not a prohibited interest. The disclosure must be made to the school board and immediate supervisor, where applicable. It must also be made part of the official record of the district Gen.

Below are my opinions and I am not speaking for the Tuxedo School Board. I am only speaking for myself. The past year will be a memorable one for all of us. Faced with the Covid pandemic, the District worked very hard to respond to the myriad of changing regulations, infections, and uncertainty. It was not always perfect but there can be no complaint about the time and effort exerted by our District personnel.

At the same time, the District needed to manage the school operations and to respond to a problematic financial audit, failed bus and Bond propositions, and open personnel positions. Here are some of the highlights. Students continue to leave the District to go to outside schools and test performance in the middle and high schools need to be improved. Tuxedo should be in the top Districts in NY State. Here are suggestions for our Board and stakeholders for the school year:.

Making change is difficult. There is a small group of parents, teachers, and residents that exert a great influence on the decisions made within the District. This is the year to give the new administration a chance to present and propose a strong vision for the future of education in Tuxedo. The District has no apparent strategy for creating an instructional program that not only ensures a strong foundation of education and practices but that will also differentiate Tuxedo from the surrounding Districts.

Parents will not send their children to Tuxedo schools unless they believe that they will receive an outstanding and well-rounded education. The entire instructional program; curricula, lesson plans, and pathways needs to be reviewed and rationalized. That is not a strategy. Tuxedo is a small school District. Even with the activity at Tuxedo Farms, the small enrollment will not change anytime soon. Great schools are created through imagination and innovative thinking. Ideas like the Summer Bridge or the outdoor classroom are an example.

Attempting to replicate what surrounding Districts do is a mistake. The path forward is to leverage the flexibility inherent in a small District. If we can dream it, we can do it. Tuxedo has made great progress this year with its finances. A budget was passed with no increase in budget and taxes. There were no gimmicks or tricks. Additionally, it was announced that there will be no budget or tax increases for the next 2 years. This can be done because the District has large excess dollars in the budget. The District cannot fall into the temptation of spending and taxing.

The District has funded and implemented programs to maintain the buildings and outsource the bus program. Every step of planned projects must be closely managed over the next few years. TUFSD cannot afford mismanagement. The plans are in place. I am comfortable that the new experienced Superintendent, can lead us forward in these areas. I look forward to returning to a new normal. I just wrote a check for school taxes in Tuxedo, and it was painful. I hear much groaning and complaining and downright anger about our school taxes.

Tuxedo residents, not living in Tuxedo Park, pay I decided to do some investigating into the school taxes of neighboring communities. This is the usual pattern. These facts tell me that either our school taxes are low, or our Village and Town taxes are high.

Our school taxes seem pretty high for the of students they support, but in comparison with other districts, our school tax rate is low. Tuxedo — In fact, should Tuxedo not have a school, and should the state force us to merge with one of our neighbors, each individual property-owner here would pay more than double of what he pays now in school taxes.

If our school taxes are a bargain, then we should look more closely at our Village and Town taxes. To lower taxes, or at least keep them from growing, one of two conditions must take place; either we cut expenses or increase the tax base, or both. Town and Village Boards are fairly convincing as they endlessly defend their budgets indicating that it is not possible to cut expenses in a meaningful way. Then we have to assume that the only viable solution is to increase our tax base.

A Town election is coming up in November. I wonder if any of the candidates have specific, realistic ideas about solving the tax overload in Tuxedo. Employee Relations As a former VP of Human Resources and 17 year veteran HR Professional I feel compelled to comment on what appears to be a pattern of employee firings and demotions inside our tiny Village. There has always been a required documented process and procedure for both hiring and firing employees, including a standard three step warning process for firing employees.

Firing an employee is never ever comfortable. Even when the employee is expecting the dismissal. Typically, in my experience, after the warnings and procedures have been completed, an employee will either have left the organization on their own or is prepared for the outcome. Most importantly, in my opinion, is the manner in which an employee is let go. This is just one of the many reasons we call my former profession Human Resources. We are dealing with human beings. And then there are always those unique circumstances, requiring a deeper level of sensitivity training, as was the case, in my opinion of Mr.

Unique because of his 22 year longevity of serving our Village. Who on the board is qualified to handle employee relations issues? Because our municipality is unique, it appears to me that many have benefited from the roles we created for Mr. Unlike the culture of a corporation, we are a tiny municipality with the ability to not only make a difference in how we want to structure our Village, but we also have an opportunity to create an environment where serving our community can be both harmonious and beneficial for all who either are employed or who volunteer here.

And finally let me mention the ethical intention of confidentiality, which is at the very core of my former profession. As a municipality of our tiny size, are we not entitled to know if proper employee procedures and warnings are adhered to? If the reason for firing a 22 year employee will not be made public because of confidentiality, then that same standard should also have been adhered to by our board as to who and what they have shared with others outside of our elected officials. I understand NY State labor laws and employment at will.

Employment at will for a 22 year employee? This would imply that there may not have been enough proof for cause. The current board was elected by the people of this Village for the people of this Village. Micro managing the very few employees that we do have was not as far as I can remember on any of the platforms during campaign season. May I suggest the board tread gently and cautiously before deciding to fire or let go of another Village employee.

The record shows that Allied Biological's now Solitude relationship as professional lakes' consultant with the Village ended almost two years ago. Chris Doyle, the representative, is both a lakes' biologist and Certified Professional Lakes Manager.

Since Allied Biological's contract as professional lakes' consultants was terminated, the record shows that the company was hired only to apply copper sulfate to mitigate algal blooms. Doyle has a to apply this chemical while the Village does not.

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