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Dr. Tom Dolan: Great Neck Public Schools Off to a Great Start!

Delighted that students, staff and administrators are all happy to be back at school, Great Neck Public Schools Superintendent Thomas Dolan said that “we picked up where we left off … this is what we do.” Dr. Dolan stated that the school district’s primary purpose is “education and all else that intrudes is noise.”

The Great Neck Public Schools opened for students on Tuesday, Sept. 6, although teachers, staff and administrators had worked throughout the summer months. Dr. Dolan termed opening day as a “smooth” start to the 2011-2012 school year.

Reporting on the opening of schools at the board of education’s Sept. 19 public action meeting, Dr. Dolan referred to a book, The Human Side of Enterprise, written by Douglas McGregor in 1960. Dr. Dolan explained “Theory X,” where the average employee does not like work, is lazy and has no ambition. In his book, Mr. McGregor wrote of “Theory Y,” where people are self-motivated, not lazy, accept greater responsibility, and enjoy setting their own goals, becoming more productive.

Dr. Dolan compared “Theory Y” with the opening of the schools: “We fall back into the pattern of school so naturally. The children want to be here; parents want to be here … teachers and staff want to be back.” Dr. Dolan said that everyone in the school district “just picks up where we left off.”

And Dr. Dolan spoke of the classroom as the “basic unit … we measure success there.” He emphasized that it is in the classroom that youngsters have the opportunity to learn the skills they will need for the rest of their lives.

Unfortunately, though, Dr. Dolan also emphasized the “distractions,” the challenges that will face the school district this year. He spoke of the fiscal challenges, including the tax cap. “We must confront this … and we will,” he said. Also, there is a challenge that comes from Washington D.C., teacher evaluations that are mandated. Here, Dr. Dolan said that “Great Neck standards are appropriate for Great Neck.”

Responding to the upcoming challenges, Dr. Dolan noted that the New York State Department of Education website still states that public schools are local institutions and are locally controlled.

During the summer months much was done in support of education, including classroom workshops on bullying, a new teacher orientation, the addition of three new administrators, new technology roll-out, an administrative retreat at South High, and the completion of school district residency reverification. Dr. Dolan noted that the school district does not quickly purchase new technological equipment; he said that the district first waits to see if new equipment is really worth it, if it really works well. As for the student reverification, Dr. Dolan said that the process was of great value and some students who do not belong in the local schools were identified.

Thanking all involved in the school district for the “smooth” opening of schools, Dr. Dolan noted how well transportation issues were handled. He reported that the on opening day, 1282 phone calls regarding transportation were received. The second day there were 756 phone calls, the fourth day 506 phone calls, and by Sept. 13, there were 289 such phone calls. Regarding transportation, Dr. Dolan said: “We work hard at this and we do it very well.”

As for those working in the buildings and on the grounds, Dr. Dolan reported that a lot of work was done over the summer, much of it behind the scenes.

Dr. Dolan also complimented the school district’s music departments and their well-recognized contribution at the community’s 9/11 Memorial Service.

“We look forward to another year, meeting the challenges in the service of our children,” Dr. Dolan stated.