Readers Write: Former superintendent endorses Berkowitz

The Island Now

I am writing in support of Barbara Berkowitz as continuing trustee of the Great Neck Public Schools Board of Education. She has my complete and strong endorsement and here’s why.

As a former school superintendent in several Long Island school districts, including the Great Neck Public Schools, and a past assistant superintendent as well, I have worked directly with school boards for 30 years. I am still involved in public schools for I love the mission of our school districts—enhancing the lives of children and their families.

There can be no nobler endeavor. Unfortunately, I cannot say that is the same mission of all school board trustees. Sadly, I have seen school boards populated by those whose presence is misguided by political, “adult” considerations that may serve all manner of purposes, but certainly not the betterment of circumstances for children and their families.

Happily, for me as superintendent and for the children attending the Great Neck Public Schools, in Great Neck, I enjoyed working collegially with a board of education where every single board trustee was dedicated to the singular aim of doing what is best for children while carefully managing the resources given to the schools by the community, which of course consists of parents of schoolchildren, as well as those without children in the schools.

For most of my years as Great Neck’s superintendent of schools, Barbara Berkowitz was president of the Board of Education. I can say without any hedging or conditions, Mrs. Berkowitz was the best, or equal to the best, board trustee I ever had the pleasure to work with in the 30 years I worked directly with boards of education.

Her values, her dedication to the mission I described above, her intellect, her knowledge of the workings of school districts, educationally as well as financially, and her intellect are without equal. As important, she brings to the table something else that is exceptionally valuable: years of growth and experience in the role.

There can be no substitute for this. Yes, everyone has to start somewhere. And the mistakes and misguided direction, statements, and actions of neophyte board members that I’ve seen all too often, often lead to extensive damage which directly and negatively affects the children we serve.

Barbara paid her dues years ago and now has the experience and expertise one expects of someone with skill, competence, and a proven track record.

I recognize that newcomers, sometimes with noble intentions but often with less virtuous aims, do not wait for a vacancy to occur but try to “knock someone off” the board. That’s not the way to go when the incumbent has made and no doubt will continue to make valuable contributions to the district, using her considerable experience and outstanding judgment to do so.

I strongly urge that Barbara Berkowitz be returned to her position on the board in the upcoming election — the children and the communities served by the Great Neck Public Schools will be the winners in that election if Barbara Berkowitz is re-elected.

Ronald L. Friedman
Former Superintendent
Great Neck Public Schools

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