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Do you hear the violins? Poor Joel Katz thinks that there is too much positive news in the Port Washington News about our schools. He says that our school district is a "King Kong". It's up to us to make sure that he is not right. Remember, the gorilla is killed in the end by aviators; let's hope our children don't end up the same way.

Mr. Katz says that 800 school employees are too many. Let's see:

* 28,545 citizens

* 5084 kids in public schools (90 percent of our kids)

* 585 kids in private schools (including Frank Russo's)

* 44 percent of households with income more than $100,000

* Average household income $129,347

* Median house value $439,700

* Mean house value $512,520

* 79.5 percent of adults with college degrees or higher

* 13th most wealthy zip code in New York State

(Source: http://mcdc2.missouri.edu/websas/dp3_2kmenus/us/ZIP_Codes/ accessed 2/10/2006)

Not only do I think these ratios are necessary (one employee for every 6.35 children), I think it is the key to our strength as a community.

92.3 percent of our high school graduates go to college (source http://www.emsc.nysed.gov/irts/655report/2005/volume2/school-county-level-data.xls accessed 2/10/2006).

I was speaking with a member of our school board recently and I commented on how great it was that Schreiber graduates were going to Harvard, Princeton and Yale. He said that he was even more excited about the graduates on their way to Nassau Community College. "Imagine," he said, "what would happen to those kids if we didn't have the success we have had."

I look forward to reading the Port Washington News because there is so much positive school news. I enjoy reading the positive letters commenting on the great things going on in our schools. I was thrilled to see the announcement of the Weber school show, The Pirates of Penzance. I was even more thrilled when I saw the 70 Weber Middle School students singing and dancing their hearts out.

I was heartened by Jay Lewis' explanation of block scheduling and the six-day week. It complimented my visit to Schreiber on parents' orientation night. I learned about the innovative scheduling initiative that will allow my daughter to schedule her time the way I did in college, and the way I do today in my work. This type of schedule provides protected unstructured time that can be used to understand problems more deeply and to seek out expert help during the work day. I am thankful that the teachers have the time built into their school day to provide this for our children. Is a 5.99 percent increase in the school budget ($94/person) too much for this community to pay for such a powerful innovation and such a wonderful artistic outlet for our kids?

Perhaps Mr. Katz just likes to read about bad news when he picks up his Port Washington News. Keep trying to run our schools on the cheap, Mr. Katz, and you'll see plenty of bad news. Home values dropping, college bound rates dropping, gang related activity rising.

Here are some items that Mr. Katz might think were missing:

The Taxpayers Union had coffee the other day at the Port Washington Diner. They left a small tip.

The League of Educational Neocons met to discuss how tough they had it in high school. A resolution was passed to make men out of "those spoiled little brats."

Or maybe Mr. Katz should audit a class at Schreiber High School or attend a school play, and see firsthand how the money is being spent.

Ethan Fried


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