Opinion

There is no doubt that these are trying economic times. Many families in Port Washington are feeling the direct effects of the turmoil in the financial system and most of us are feeling it indirectly. One of the most amazing things about Port Washington is our community's resilience, and ability to come together as a true community in times of trouble, to find solutions and move forward.

Our schools are excellent places of learning. They attract families to our town, and anchor and unite our peninsula like almost nothing else. Our teachers and administrators are dedicated people who work tirelessly, even through difficult times. Their efforts, through these turbulent times, have helped to keep our educational programs strong, and given many children a chance to earn success.

As we confront the dire economic news in our nation and around the world, we must also confront it in our schools. The state government has an unimaginable budget deficit, and our taxpayers are facing enormous losses in their investments, and sometimes in their very livelihoods. The squeeze, therefore, is on the schools to do more with less....and less...and less.

How do we maintain our infrastructure, remain true to our class size standards, offer the most diverse course offerings, keep clubs and sports at the middle and high schools, bring information technology into the curriculum, allow our artistic students to flourish, and balance an impossibly tight budget, with minimal reserves and no reduction in mandates?

The answer is: we on the board of education are looking at all the options and will balance the various needs of the district and community. There is no magic solution. There will need to be sacrifices. As a board we will do what we were elected to do and act in the best interests of all involved. We are interested in any ideas that you may have. Please feel free to contact the board of education at BOE@portnet.k12.ny.us

One thing the board is doing is taking clear action with legislators. On Nov. 18 Roger Tilles, NY State Regent for Nassau and Suffolk Counties, was the board's guest. The board, administrators, and public engaged in a frank discussion of priorities and solutions.

The board has also extended invitations to our state legislators, Senator Craig Johnson and Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel, to join with the board in similar discussions. In order to be well prepared for these conversations, the board has formed a Legislative Task Force, which is preparing pertinent briefs for the board.

We know, and we want the public to know, that in times like these, difficult decisions must be made. We must weigh our priorities very carefully, remain true to our core mission, and make the very difficult choices of what we are willing to live without in order to sustain growth in those areas that are most precious to us as a community.

In this, we all, every one of us, must come together, keep the big picture in mind, listen to one another, and find common ground. That is the process that the people you have elected to your board of education are committed to. We invite you to join with us in this thoughtful endeavor.

Please attend our board of education meetings, and plan to participate in our Community Forum on Jan. 27. Board members can be reached at boe@portnet.k12.ny.us. Committee meetings are posted at www.portnet.k12.ny.us.


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