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Letter: Herricks and Mineola Merge into Herneola

Over the few years long process of reconfiguring our schools, it has been suggested by some board members that John McGrath has stood silently by, adding nothing to the process as a sign of his objection to closing any schools. When asked for his input at a recent school board meeting, his reply was “I’ll think about it and get back to you.”

Today I read his answer is to disband The Mineola School District and merge with Herricks. Looking at the Superintendant’s blog, I found some of his [McGrath’s] reasons for this “radical” idea. He is quoted as saying the following: “The benefit to Herricks may be in offsetting their tax while the benefit to Mineola would be in enhancing its academic reputation.” So we pay more and get a better reputation?

He goes on to say: “the ethnic groups in Herricks are wealthier in Herricks than in Mineola.”....“Herricks’ elementary schools are overcrowded”...“the tax benefit to Herricks who would now obtain tax relief in the form of having the benefits of the Mineola commercial tax base”...“the elimination of a middle school the opportunity to create a pre-K through 6 or 8 elementary school”...“Next assuming that the middle and high schools could be absorbed into one building”...“additional savings could be obtained if elementary school buildings were found to be underutilized in the merged school district”

After all the community has said, he now suggests having sixth graders in with High School students, pre-K with eighth graders, giving away our commercial tax base and spending more to enhance our reputation, closing elementary schools in the long run and our middle and high schools now.

Finally he states: “School district consolidations will eventually happen due to the high cost of administering small school districts. It will happen through legislative fiat or by economic necessity.”

While it is true the State could come in and force school districts to merge, they would only do so in cases where the districts refused to self govern themselves and ran themselves into near bankruptcy. As the majority of the school board tries to fix the problems to avoid such a fate, Mr. McGrath wants to throw in the towel and give our district, it’s identity and it’s tax base away.

 Artie Barnett

Mineola Resident