As we finally move toward the warmer weather and graduation draws closer, it is my privilege to keep the community abreast of various ongoing projects, as well as the continued academic excellence evident in the Port Washington School District. As always, our unwavering goal is to continuously improve the quality of education in the district while exercising prudent fiscal management.
I am extremely pleased to report that construction projects undertaken to alleviate overcrowding and repair deteriorating facilities throughout the district are being completed in a timely fashion and are coming in substantially under budget. As you are aware, coming in under budget in any construction project especially one of this magnitude is quite an accomplishment. The construction included major additions and alterations such as the addition of more than 60 new classrooms, new library/media centers at both Weber and Schreiber, the reopening of South Salem, expanded parking facilities for both cars and buses and various infrastructure improvements to six schools including construction of new bathrooms, offices, storage areas and upgrades to heating/cooling systems. Current projections indicate that we will be under our budget by several hundred thousand dollars. And, as a result of this careful fiscal management, those dollars can now be applied to some necessary capital improvements outlined in the B List of the 2000-2001-bond referendum, such as much-needed roofing projects. With the completion of this construction, not only are we addressing critical enrollment challenges; we're building a better school district. As many of you may be aware, research dating back to 1927 ("the Hawthorne effect") indicates direct correlation between bright environments and student learning. Completing construction in a timely manner and coming in under budget did not happen by accident; it took a tremendous amount of hard work. As you may recall, during the summer of 2003 when the major Weber and Schreiber construction was fully under way, I placed all of the construction on a direct report to the superintendent to ensure timely school openings and bond cost savings wherever possible. I want to thank publicly the entire staff for helping us achieve these goals for our students and taxpayers. And I want to thank our parents and students as well for their great cooperation throughout the process.
Although this is the most difficult year ever on a nationwide basis for college admissions (a record more students and more applications for essentially the same number of acceptances), Port seniors continue to aim high when it comes to college attendance. This was most evident in an article from last year's Wall Street Journal that ranked Port Washington as a nationally recognized district with regard to senior acceptance rates into college. In fact, not only was Port cited as among only 65 prep and public schools in the United States for senior acceptance to the most competitive universities (mostly Ivy League), but also was ranked in the "top ten" comprehensive public high schools in the United States. More than 90 percent of Port students go on to college and many are accepted to some of the most prestigious schools in the country. In 2004, Port students were accepted to most selective colleges like Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Yale, Northwestern and Duke. But, regardless of the schools our students attend, I couldn't be more proud of all of our graduating seniors, many of whom are already off to a great start. Whether it's attending an Ivy League school, developing skills in a two-year college or serving our country Port graduates are leaders and great contributors to the well-being of our nation. To add to our community and school pride, just this past month (March 27) The New York Times published a great article about Port Washington. Once again, the excellence of Port's public schools drew rave reviews. It is a "badge of honor" for our entire community when our town and schools receive such wonderful accolades nationwide. I close as I always close to you. I have never been more optimistic about the future at Port. On behalf of my family, I thank you for the opportunity and privilege of serving. The best is yet to come! We still have a myriad of problems and issues to address, but with great students, a wonderful community and a terrific staff, our goal remains to comprehensively bring Port to the highest educational levels in our country.