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The problems the board deals with are multifaceted and require more than simplistic responses. Our district serves a widely diverse student population with a variety of needs. By law we must provide a free and appropriate public education for all students from the most gifted to the most academically challenged. Despite individual differences in learning style and rate, on the whole our students do well. Of the seniors enrolled in September 2003 all, but one, graduated and 93 percent went on to college. Thirty years ago only 72 percent did so.

A diverse student population needs more choices available to allow each the opportunity to succeed in line with potential. The board recognizes that flexible scheduling in terms of class size is a means through which optimum educational benefits for students at all levels of instruction may be achieved. How teachers are assigned to teach is a philosophical question. For more than three decades our educators have found that learning is most effective when a portion of direct teaching hours are used for individual or small group instruction.

To adequately meet the needs of our growing student population requires substantial resources. The BOE realizes the bulk of school budget funds comes from residents. Unlike Roslyn, the BOE has been proactive in seeing its financial house in order. We hired new auditors; reviewed all policies and procedures; eliminated all credit cards; established a fraud and abuse task force and hotline; monitor cell phone use. The district is developing a five year capital projects plan to deal with essential major building repairs. Due to cost containment by district administration the 2001 Construction Bond has come in under budget. This year the district has received several large grants and donations from other funding sources. In conjunction with the PW Public Library, the BOE sponsored a meeting for community residents to learn about all the tax exemptions for which they are eligible.

Although state and federal governments continue to saddle districts with mandated requirements, aid received from those entities is limited and has not kept pace with inflation. Over the past three decades, state aid was reduced from 21 percent to about 6 percent. In a memo dated Jan. 5, Harvey Weitzman, Nassau County Comptroller stated, "Nassau County residents pay more of their incomes in school taxes than do residents of nearby counties, cities and New York State as a whole, primarily because they receive less state aid, not because they have higher incomes or spend more per pupil on education. The main culprit appears to be the role soaring house prices play in determining state aid. State aid is based on complicated formulas that not only consider the percentage of low-income students, but also property wealth." The BOE is working with other advocacy groups to try to change this inequitable situation.

The BOE has tried to mitigate the impact of rising assessments. In formulating this new budget, the BOE has made reductions amounting to $1,047,600, while doing its best to maintain instructional programs. I urge you to give this proposed budget your consideration and support when you go to the polls.

Nancy Cowles

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