It’s been three years since the WIBOE closed Westbrook Elementary School. Now, the “Gang of Gals” who benefited the most by shutting down this publicly paid for facility, are in total control of it.
The only difference between the drug gangs, who take control of our publicly paid for housing projects, is “Burns & Crew” orchestrated their takeover without firing a single shot. Nope, the ammo of choice for their takeover was lies, deceit, greed and fraud.
While “Burns & Crew” continue to insist how closing Westbrook benefits you, your children and the tax paying community at large; the truth is, they are the only ones cashing in on this colossal charade.
Since being targeted for eviction by this greedy “Gang of Gals” BCBA continues to receive calls of support for what we do and the programs we provide. Many continue to share their own stories and insight on how Ms. Burns and her BOE cohorts run this district, with one mom telling us “Welcome to West Islip, this is how it works here”.
It’s as if the West Islip taxpayer feels too threatened to confront their out of control public officials. Is it any wonder that “Burns & Crew” feel “entitled” to do whatever they want now that they control Westbrook?
BCBA may not have access to the millions of taxpayer dollars Ms. Burns and her BOE cohorts are willing to waste covering up what’s happening here at Westbrook, but we do have plenty of fight in us. And thanks to you, we also have a lot more information that we need to share.
Before closing Westbrook, Ms. Burns and her BOE cohorts were insistent that they would not close this school. After all, they had just made the West Islip taxpayer spend millions of taxpayer dollars in upgrades. Those upgrades made Westbrook the shining jewel of all the district’s elementary schools. That lie gave them the cover they needed to keep local parents from remaining involved or showing up en masse to challenge their reversal to keep Westbrook open.
Now, with the bulk of the community disengaged, Ms. Burns and her BOE cohorts could move forward with their plan to turn this once beautiful school into a privately owned Mini-Mall.
As the new Superintendent of West Islip Schools, Ms. Burns was in the perfect position to help Ms. Larosa (Owner/Director of the SSCC) facilitate this plan. And if receiving $300,000.00 a year in salary and benefits wasn’t enough of an incentive, Ms. Burns’ “Big Payoff” was still to come.
For the few residents who remained engaged, Ms. Burns and her BOE cohorts had to convince them that their decision to close Westbrook would still “serve the West Islip residents and not negatively impact the surrounding community”; a condition that must be met if Ms. Burns and her BOE want to retain the building’s Tax Exempt Status.
Acting on advice from the BOE Attorneys, Ms. Burns and her BOE cohorts were counseled on how to present the closing of Westbrook to meet the required conditions needed to retain the building’s Tax Exempt Status (and avoid paying the building’s property taxes).
Keep in mind, the WIBOE has been “sticking it” to the West Islip taxpayer for decades by continually demanding residents pay their never ending property tax increases. Hardly ever are these demands declined, even when most of this new revenue is wasted on paying higher administration costs and bigger benefit packages (and are rarely used on the needs of the students).
Has the West Islip taxpayer ever been offered a reduction in their ridiculously high property taxes because their BOE was ready to curtail all its waste, fraud and abuse? No! Ms. Burns and her BOE cohorts expect West Islip taxpayers to “pay their fair share” while they are not willing to do the same.
A quick review of the statute regarding the closing of public schools exposes the depths Ms. Burns and her BOE cohorts are willing to go to break the law and keep themselves awash in taxpayer funds.
A local municipality may enforce its zoning, building and tax codes, depending upon the manner in which a school district property will be used when leased.
For a District to be successful in preserving zoning/tax exemptions, they must submit evidence that the proposed lease of the school will not alter the essential character of the former school’s neighborhood.
Factors include the nature and scope of the entity seeking immunity, the kind of function or land use involved, the extent of the public interest to be served thereby, the effect the local land use regulation would have upon the enterprise concerned and the impact upon the legitimate local interests.
Municipalities also consider the type of entities involved, their hours of operation, and the effect the lease will have on traffic flow.
It seems pretty clear why BCBA was selected to be the first tenant in Westbrook. The only non-profit organization operating from this facility, it is no coincidence that our mission statement just happens to square with the standard these shuttered schools should meet in order to retain their Tax Exempt status.
Our mission at BCBA is simple; serve our community with a facility that is safe, clean and provides a positive environment where young people can come and feel a sense of belonging while developing the self-reliant skills they'll need to become Champions in Life!
Offer well-rounded sport and fitness programs designed to help young people meet the challenges that lie ahead in their lives so they won't feel the need to turn to crime, drugs or gang involvement.
Become known as a full-fledged community center where families can train to stay in shape and benefit from the many programs designed to educate, motivate and inspire!
On the surface, renting to one small community minded non-profit organization and just two other for-profit businesses (SSCC & Divine Dance) shouldn’t alter the essential character of the former school’s neighborhood and therefore preserve the building’s Tax Exempt Status. But there’s a problem, this too is a big lie concocted by Ms. Burns and her BOE cohorts.
There are no less than eight for-profit businesses now operating from Westbrook (at one time eleven), the increase on traffic flow this has caused the surrounding community is undeniable! Ask the residents who live around Westbrook whether or not the chaos created by the endless amount of traffic coming and going into this facility has turned their lives upside down.
Ask these residents if the decision by Ms. Burns and her BOE cohorts to close their school and convert it into a Mini-Mall has disrupted the quality of their lives or "altered the essential character of the former school’s neighborhood"!
So busy is the traffic coming in and out of Westbrook, their kids can no longer safely play in the streets, be it on Gerek or Duffin. It's one thing to take away the school their kids used to walk to, but now they’ve taken away the peace and safety of their neighborhood!
Do you think this “Gang of Gals” now running Westbrook care about the residents they have inconvenienced? Doubtful! They’re too focused on all the profits Westbrook’s closing is making them. Do you think this “Gang of Gals” now running Westbrook would ever tolerate (in their own neighborhood), the kind of traffic or chaos they’ve caused this one? Absolutely not! The “Gang of Gals” now running Westbrook thinks they are part of West Islip’s “UPPER CRUST”! This crew feels “entitled” to their "quiet streets and peaceful neighborhoods" without any regard for others.
But aren’t those who live around the Westbrook facility (many of whom pay upwards of $14,000.00 a year in property taxes) just as “entitled”? Shouldn’t they be able to come home from work to quiet streets that are safe for their kids?
In their continued effort to avoid scrutiny of the chaos they’ve created by over stuffing Westbrook with more than the three tenants they promised, Ms. Burns and her BOE cohorts makes it look like there are still only three tenants here.
Their phony Tenant Sign is nothing more than a ruse; another lie to hide the fact that this school’s closure has in fact negatively impacted traffic flow as well as negatively impacted the character of this once quiet neighborhood and as such should not be able to keep its Tax Exempt Status.
As you know from previous posts to the Save BCBA website , Ms. Burns gave the owner of Divine Dance the right to sublet vacant space at Westbrook to additional tenants (at three times the rate she pays for the space). On top of giving Divine Dance FREE taxpayer custodial services, it is still unclear why Ms. Burns provides her with all these taxpayer perks. Who knows what under-the-table arrangement these two may have.
But this little sublet arrangement gives Ms. Burns and her BOE cohorts cover from scrutiny by zoning and tax officials, because technically it is Divine Dance renting to additional tenants and not the WIBOE.
Remember, Ms. Burns and her BOE cohorts are on record stating there would only be three tenants renting here at Westbrook, an important point since there are only sixty parking stalls at this facility.
Sixty parking stalls may have been enough for the teaching staff when Westbrook operated as an Elementary School from 8am to 3pm. But now, as a Mini-Mall where Ms. Larosa, (Owner/Director of the SSCC) needs forty stalls just for her staff, it is easy to see how this lot is totally insufficient.
Add that to the parking needs of the eight other businesses (including their staff and customers) and one can understand why the residents around Westbrook are unhappy.
Yet Ms. Burns and her BOE cohorts continue to lie about how Westbrook is currently being used. They continue to present this property as a functioning public school. They continue to insist they should not have to pay property tax or adhere to the stringent Building & Fire Codes that other legitimate businesses/Mini-Malls (operating in Islip Township) must follow.
Westbrook is not operating as a community enriching facility with just three tenants. The closing of Westbrook has not enriched the character of this once peaceful neighborhood! As such, this issue needs to be re-visited by all the Town agencies/officials that dictate the proper use of these closed schools.
After three years of waste, fraud, lies and deceit and with community outrage fading, “Burns & Crew” think they’ve pulled it off.
Since moving her business to Westbrook, Ms. Larosa (Owner/Director of the SSCC) has been able to turn a small for-profit preschool into a multi-million dollar operation, subsidized by the West Islip taxpayer.
Since moving her business to Westbrook, Divine Dance operates rent free by using the profits generated from the rent she charges all the additional tenants that sublet from her (money that should go to the West Islip taxpayers).
And Ms. Burns, well her “Big Payoff” came in the form of a very generous five year extension on her contract from a very thankful Ms. Larosa (who is STILL a member of the WIBOE). That’s a cool million five over the next five years with lifelong pension and benefits.
Not bad for a superintendent whose only accomplishment thus far has been facilitating the closing of West Islip’s best elementary school. Not bad for a superintendent whose schools (she oversees) can’t crack the top 500 schools in NY. Not bad for a superintendent whose students are routinely sent home with notes asking parents to support another budget increase rather than sending them home with notebook computers. Now that's straight up gangsta!
Again, the only community minded nonprofit organization operating from Westbrook is BCBA. The coaches here volunteer their services because they are committed to making a difference in a young person’s life. Some of our coaches volunteer as many as thirty hours a week at this center and still BCBA functions for under $50,000.00 a year!
The only reason our annual budget is that high is because our expenses doubled after we moved to Westbrook. Now, almost eighty percent of our annual expenses are paid to Ms. Burns and her BOE cohorts for rent. Compare that to the bloated $300,000.00 salary Ms. Burns demands the West Islip taxpayer pay her each year.
Just think how much better the West Islip taxpayers would be served if they hired two co-superintendents and paid them each a very generous $100,000.00 a year salary! Not bad for six months' work. Think of all the good saving $100,000.00 a year could do, if put towards the needs of the students. At the very least, BCBA could open TWO additional centers!
BCBA has two and a half years left on its lease and we fully intend to serve out what remains. “Burns & Crew” can continue trying to harass us out of the space we rent in “their school” so they can use it or give it to another business associate or family member, but we are here until our lease runs out.
In the meantime, we will continue doing the great work we started in 2004, back when Ms. Burns was still "worming" her way to the top (salary) of the public school food chain.
BCBA will expand its hours of operation to accommodate the brave men and women of our Armed Services. We will be providing them with a place where they can fellowship with other Veterans, play basketball, train and receive assistance with Veteran related issues and paperwork.
BCBA will continue nourishing our partnership with the NYV-PAL. We will continue providing kids (from every community) with a chance to learn and play organized league basketball.
BCBA will begin holding community fundraisers (Vendor Bazaars and Fitness Challenges) in our effort to recoup the money we spent moving to Westbrook and will now need to relocate.
Even as we lend our name to the suit being filed with the Americans with Disabilities Administration, BCBA will move forward with its plans to partner with The Viscardi Center. We will be providing a place that is both friendly and accessible for kids with disabilities in spite of Ms. Burns' and Ms. Larosa's (Owner/Director of the SSCC) scheme to prevent BCBA from accessing the building’s only handicap entry ramp and bathroom. And these two consider themselves educators?
It is time for those residents (who have had their neighborhood turned upside down so “Burns & Crew” can rake in huge profits), to pick up the phone and call (anonymously if need be) Joseph Ludwig, Islip Town Comptroller , and the Building & Fire Code Enforcement Offices.
It is time those residents (who have suffered the most by the colossal charade Ms. Burns and her BOE cohorts have pulled off) demand answers as to why they are being allowed to rake in huge profits without having to pay “their fair share”!
It is time those residents (who have had their neighborhoods overrun with added traffic) ask Town of Islip officials why “Burns & Crew” do not have to abide by all the codes/restrictions/laws the rest of us must obey.
BCBA has plenty of fight left in it, do you?
All of us at BCBA who coach and mentor these kids ask for your continued support. In our effort to make light of this awful situation we've been bamboozled into, please help us fulfill our mission and plans to relocate by purchasing one of our “Straight Outta Westbrook” tee-shirts.
For your donation of just $25 + S&H ($30 total) you’ll receive a 100% cotton heavyweight Gilden tee-shirt (like the one pictured below). Sizes include Men’s Small-Medium and Large (add $5 for XL & XXL).
Be sure to include your shipping address when completing your online order.
To save the $5 S&H fee stop by our center and purchase one there!