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There seems to be a campaign of giving out deliberate misinformation relating to the bond proposals and related school board matters. Even more disgusting is that much of this misinformation is being put forth by current school board members who seem to feel that they can lie to the public, in order to further their own political ambitions.

A good example is Sandy Erhlich's letter in last week's paper. Among her many outlandish and incorrect comments were that to provide a similar foreign language program to the 6th grade at an elementary school, the cost would be "extremely high, possibly prohibitive." This is sheer nonsense as the other ridiculous comments in her letter. The cost of providing a foreign language program to any grade is basically the cost of the teacher. This cost is similar no matter which school it is provided in. In fact, due to clauses in our teacher contract the cost may even be less. You would think after being on the board for almost three years Ms. Ehrlich would have taken the time to at least read our teacher contract. Perhaps Ms. Ehrlich has another motive dealing with a foreign language curriculum in our elementary schools since every time I try to bring up the subject at a school board meeting she votes against it including when I asked it be made one of the board's goals and have a work session devoted solely to the topic or even when I asked it be included in last year's budget for our elementary schools. Maybe if Ms. Ehrlich was so concerned about the quality of our 6th grade foreign language program she would not have refused to discuss at recent board meetings why many of our 6th grade students had to do without foreign language textbooks for part of the year. Or perhaps we can find out why the middle school foreign language experience seems to be that we now teach in three years what we used to teach in two instead of challenging our students more. Talk about dumbing down the curriculum.

Other letters were equally deceiving. My fellow board member Nancy Cowles wrote about two previous letters that she felt "must be corrected." Strange how she felt minor details needed to be corrected even though she agreed with the main conclusion that our school board violated NYS law. Why doesn't she see the urgent need to correct the incorrect information given out in the Port Report which is paid for by the taxpayers and sent out to everyone in the district?

With election time coming the incumbents are scrambling to hide their neglect and incompetence by blaming others. Sandy Ehrlich in a speech and Vita Cusumano-Dicker in a letter are trying to place the blame for the students at Manorhaven, Guggenheim and Weber having insufficient space next September on Mr. Zimmerman and myself. Let's look at the facts instead of the misinformation they have given out. Space solutions must at the minimum be done the year before either in the budget or a separate bond. The school board certainly knew that we would be short space this coming September last year. I proposed last year as I did the year before that we either put money in the budget or have a separate bond to construct permanent space to take care of our short-term needs. My fellow board members refused on several occasions. There is no other option if we wanted to have the space by September. By doing it last year we could have also built permanent additions instead of temporary portables and saved another half million dollars since they plan on throwing away these portables anyway in the bond proposal. Remember this when they try to explain in the coming election how they are "fiscally responsible" and how much time and effort they put into their "well thought out plan." The majority of the school board tried to cover up this neglect and incompetence on their part by giving out an illegal contract to the architect to jump start the project which at best would have meant portables in October or November not September. In fact when I spoke to the lawyer in Albany to inquire about the illegality of this contract, I was told "there's not much case law on the subject, since few school boards would be foolish enough to do such a thing," well, welcome to the Port Washington School Board. Contrary to the impression Nancy Cowles tried to give in her letter, our school board was trying to give the architect a similar illegal contract to begin work on the bond issue before the voters had a chance to approve it. This had the potential to cost our school district additional hundreds of thousands of dollars. The incumbent school board should own up to their complete blame for this fiasco. If they wish to put the blame on someone else, I wish they would explain it since it is solely their fault and those who blindly campaigned for the passage of the budget last year.

Other letters give out more misinformation. I guess if they can't attack a plan on its merits, they make things up.

Letters from Mark Rozeen purport me stating that the pool under the "common sense plan" would cost only $1.7 million, I want a pool instead of the classroom facilities and that I want to use dumpsters instead of portables among other things. Mr. Rozeen should go find some fiction magazine to write for since I have never expressed any of these ideas. They are all made up lies.

Mr. Stan Ronell stated that I was to blame for past construction problems. Another blatant lie since I have never been on the board when we had a bond issue vote. Perhaps Mr. Ronell is trying to hide his own inadequate performance since he was on the bond monitoring committee, which failed the district tremendously, as even the CAC committee agreed. He helped give us the Lapeka fiasco that cost us over a million dollars. If anybody gives Mr. Ronell's words any credibility after that they should be certified insane.

There are the letters from Mr. Strom who doesn't seem to have a clue of what he is talking about such as when he mentioned that our alternative plan is lacking in gym space when the fact is we have more gyms that can be used than the board's plan.

We have a loose cannon in Mr. Persons who takes my words completely out of context to claim I said our alternative plan would cost $65 million. No other sane person at that meeting came away with that interpretation. Thank God we have two other police commissioners to keep Mr. Persons in check.

Port has an important choice to make in the upcoming bond issue. Our alternative plan does have its shortcomings, as does the board's plan. Let's not confuse the issues by giving out wrong information for the sake of personal political ambitions of some board members. It would be far more beneficial to discuss the honest issues associated with both plans and see which one comes out the most beneficial. It should be noted that third party organizations have asked both sides of the board to debate. The five school board majority members have refused to do so. If their plan is so good, what are they afraid of?

Richard Sussman


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