Education board okays policy to avoid politics

Rich Jacques

The Great Neck Board of Education moved to ensure that taxpayer dollars will not be used to influence elections.

According to a newly-adopted policy which unanimously passed after a third reading Monday, the district may now provide informational material to voters concerning budgets, propositions, or other matters before the electorate. But school district funds and resources may not be used to sway voters to support particular position.

“This new language ensures that taxpayer dollars will not be utilized to influence the outcome of our annual election in any way,” said board member Fran Langsner at the regular meeting held in the North High School lecture room.

Also at the meeting, schools in Great Neck moved one step closer to allowing secondary students the ability students to opt out from providing their names and information to military recruiters and institutions of higher learning.

The board gave a second reading of the section of policy at the meeting which that addresses disclosure and use of personal information to college or other post secondary education recruitment or military recruitment.

The policy “has been amended based on a new interpretation of the Family Education Rights Privacy Act that allows secondary school students themselves to submit a written statement to opt out of this participation,” said Langsner.

Currently, only parents can opt students out, but if the new policy passes, children will have the final say.

The proposed policy might encourage more discussion on the issue between families, said Great Neck Superintendent of Schools Thomas Dolan previously.

According to the school board, parents will be notified by mail a child decides to opt out.

A third and final reading is scheduled for the next board meeting on March 28.

At Monday’s meeting, the school board held an informal budget hearing to introduce the preliminary working budget for fiscal year 2011-12.

One budget item which raised some concerns among those in attendance included an estimated $4 million paid to the Cooperative Educational Services of Nassau County.

“This is going to get out of control real fast,” said one resident, who said he was “outraged” at the cost. “Someone needs to start asking what are these real costs to BOCES.”

According to an audience member, state Sen. Jack Martins is looking into BOCES funding.

Also of concern was $385,170 paid to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

“Two years ago New York state mandated that everyone had to pay payroll tax,” said Dolan. “No one was exempt from it, including school districts.”

Dolan said the tax is mandated by the state to offset losses in the MTA, and the school district is reimbursed for much of the cost.

“We will not be getting it back again,” said school board President Barbara Berkowitz.

“It’s not only school districts that are charged this tax, every level of government has to pay it,” said Berkowitz. “The MTA has its hand in everyone’s pockets.”

About the author

Rich Jacques

Share this Article