In Port Washington, we have some unique circumstances that have contributed to significant real estate tax increases for most of our residents. Several years ago, I wrote a letter to the editor of this paper urging the residents of Port Washington to wake up and oppose Nassau County reassessment because of the adverse impact it would have on most of us. The reassessment leads one to a type of "Catch 22" in that if one lives in an area that is desirable and attracts people to purchase homes, the value of the homes increase. Reassessment makes it so that we then have to pay more in real estate tax, which could in the long run adversely affect Port Washington real estate values. This occurs even though people living in incorporated villages use significantly fewer Nassau County services than others. In addition, Port Washington has its own police department (Nassau County provides ancillary services), fire department, etc., and most roads within Port are maintained other than by the county.
This reassessment then causes us to pay additional taxes, and so taxpayers become upset with our police district expenses, water district expenses, library expense, and, of course, school district expenses as well. The problem occurs, to a large degree, because we are "unwilling" to think "outside the box." Rather than either rally behind, or oppose an issue because of its price, we should be analyzing things to get more "value." I beg the new school board to begin analyzing the overall operation of the school, and evaluating everything. For example; (1) Why does PW have a six-day rotation at Schreiber when most schools do not? When one takes major courses four out of six days, it means students get but 120 hours of classtime in those courses (based on 180 day year). If, for example, we switched to a five-day rotation, with 45 minute classes, students would receive 135 hours of instruction in those courses. Teachers would also be able to take a period as a lunch period, lunch would be rotated between students, and would be able to teach five 45 minute classes per day (20 hour per week/ 4 hours per day classroom time. There would be nine 45 minute classes per day (8 plus lunch), allowing adequate time to schedule electives and minor courses. Many schools do things that way, and are as successful as we are. Over a period of years, we would also see cost savings from doing this, as well. (2) Why are our budgets not prepared using zero-based budgeting principals, at least periodically? (3) Why do we not also prepare 3-5 year expense estimates? (4) Why do we not examine every program and expense to see if we are getting "the most bang for our buck?"
I believe that anyone who becomes a member of the school board should be applauded because of their devotion of time and energy to our community. However, I also believe that nothing is perfect, and everything should constantly be re-evaluated to make sure that it is performing optimally! We must demand the best for our students, but the only realistic way to do that is to make sure that monies are spent in the most efficacious manner.
I hope that the new school board members will see this for what is; a plea to make our schools even better while letting all members of the community feel comfortable that their hard-earned and heavily taxed monies are spent in the best manner. I hope that parents with children in our schools support the efforts of the members of the school board, yet demand the best, and that monies be spent wisely and effectively. I hope that the heavily taxed members of our community understand that our schools are an important and essential treasure, and that rather than oppose spending, please oppose unwise and inefficient spending while striving to always keep our school superior through improved planning and analysis.
I urge everyone to get involved in a rational discussion, without the polarization and bitterness that has occurred in the past. We all hopefully agree on the needs of the school, and hopefully, together, wise heads will prevail by utilizing some fresh ideas, continuing successful ideas, and "thinking outside the box." We can succeed in this if we all unite.
Richard Glenn Brody