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We were disappointed that the bond issue to repair school roofs was not approved on March 16. We know that the need to repair the roofs was there before March 16 and remains today.

We recognize community concerns about property taxes because we, too, are tax-paying residents of this and surrounding communities. However, one of the reasons why the roofs were not repaired before and that funds were not part of previous bond issues was the district's goal of keeping expenses as low as possible. Broken roofs do not get better; they continue to deteriorate, and eventually they must be fixed. Unfortunately, the longer the repairs and replacement are delayed, the higher the cost becomes.

On May 18, the community will vote to accept or reject a school district budget for the 2004-2005 school year. We do not yet know the content of that budget. We do know that it must be a budget that provides for the physical and educational needs of the schools. We know that the budget must provide the funds necessary to maintain the quality of Port's programs.

Over the years the Port Washington School District has made every effort to keep expenses as low as possible while maintaining a school system of recognized quality. It is the quality of the schools that is a major factor in the extraordinarily high prices which Port Washington houses can get on very high priced Long Island.

BOCES statistics support the fact that Port has gotten the most for its money over the years. In 2001, 68 percent of other Nassau County districts had higher tax rates. In 2002, 69 percent had higher tax rates. Last year 83 percent of Nassau districts had higher tax rates than Port. In addition, Port ranks 11th in per pupil spending in the county behind Hewlett-Woodmere, Locust Valley, East Williston, Roslyn, North Shore, Great Neck, Jericho, Lawrence, Manhasset, and Oyster Bay.

The Port Washington community has gotten a lot for its money in the past. If the community wants to continue to have a well respected and excellent school district, it must continue to support budgets that maintain the quality of those schools of which we all have been so proud.

Mary Anne Cariello


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