If you will go onto our school district’s Portnet website, at the bottom of the homepage, you will find an area titled, “Headlines.” The most recent item posted under “Headlines” is a letter dated Feb. 10, from the president of our school board and from our superintendent of schools, to all New York State legislators. I urge you to read the letter, because it reveals some of the financial and social problems that our school district is faced with. Problems, like diversity and unaccompanied non-English speaking minors being placed in our schools, are never discussed at a school board meeting or at a school district forum, or even in our local newspapers.
Our school officials ask in the letter for adjustments to be made in how the state distributes state aid. That is a short-sighted solution to the financial problems faced by our school district, exacerbated by the diversity and unaccompanied minors problems just mentioned. State aid will never pay for all of the costs, or even for most of the costs, of educating a child in Port Washington, or in any of the other 732 local school districts in the state. The answer to the very serious and burdensome problems discussed in the letter must be that local school districts have to be abolished, and replaced by either I state school district, or possibly six regional state school districts.
One, or six state regional school districts, would be funded through the state’s income tax system and not through the 733 anachronistic local property tax systems that now pay for most of the costs of operating each local school district. An added benefit of abolishing local school districts will be that all school district employees will become employees of the state and their employment contracts will be negotiated by experts retained by the state, and not by unqualified, frightened, local school district board members.