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I am confused. I had always thought that when the board of education had proposed the second budget, that it included a line item for an additional teacher (and section) for the Guggenheim School and its fifth grade class. I remember the line item so clearly, because if it was former board member Sandy Ehrlich's passionate insistence that led the way for the board to appropriate the additional funds for the extra section at Guggenheim. However, just to make sure my memory was accurate I called Mrs. Ehrlich; she was extremely gracious and she agreed with my recollection. That brings us to today, two weeks before school starts; and despite having authorized an added teacher line to the budget for the Guggenheim fifth grade, there is still no resolution to the "problem."

I am being led to believe, and to present to the community, the notion that the fifth grade at Guggenheim is really not out of the ordinary, and that there is really no urgency for adding extra support to the school before the start of class in September. Yet at the same time, the school district in mandating that some members of Guggenheim's fifth grade class be transferred to other schools by the order of the superintendent, with the presumed approval of the board president (without any official vote of the board). In fact, at the last board meeting I voiced my strong objection to the involuntary transfer of Guggenheim students only to have my objections be publicly snickered at by the board president. How can we on the one hand say the situation is all A-OK; and on the other hand begin telling 10-year-old children and their families that they can not go to the same school as all the other children on their block.

My current understanding is that although the families who are involuntarily being transferred have been notified of the switch, that the situation has now been put on hold for a while. What does that mean? Does that mean that every other fifth grader in Port Washington knows who their teacher is going to be next year, and two or three children are going to be kept in limbo for two more weeks because of some political power struggle? Every parent that I have spoken to, when informed of these shenanigans, is appalled that we would even consider such a move. Likewise, I am sure that the entire Guggenheim community would have no interest in being a party to a situation where we are deliberately turning away kids from attending their own home school. If the situation is that severe at Guggenheim, then hire the staff that the voters have already approved. More importantly, let's tell those 10-year-old kids that we made a terrible mistake, and that of course they will be able to attend the same schools as their neighbors next door.

John Zimmerman


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