Readers Write: ‘Temporary immigrant students’ a burden on G.N. taxpayers

The Island Now

Boston and Great Neck have something in common. They both have a major population of  “temporary immigrant students” which affects their economies.  

The difference is Bostonians benefit substantially from their temporary immigrant students who pay tuitions to the local colleges and universities thriving their economy, whereas, the temporary student population in Great Neck imposes a substantial tax burden upon its permanent residents.

The good reputation of Great Neck Public Schools brings a substantial number of families to live in Great Neck, only, for the duration when their children are going to school.  

These families often move out of Great Neck immediately after the graduations of their children as they are unwilling to pay the high taxes with the school tax as its most prominent portion.

This trend makes the schools overcrowded while there is no substantial growth of the population. As a result, the permanent residents effectively subsidize the major portion of the education for the “temporary immigrant students.”

It is a common belief that GNPS is regularly tricked into registering children from multiple families who use the same address (whether they live together or not).  Clearly, the GNPS school officials choose to put their heads in the sand by not dealing with the issue.

GNPS deems the name and address which appears on a utility bill as a sufficient proof of residence while the name appearing on the utility bill can be easily changed for every billing cycle upon the request from the utility company.  

Reportedly, some individuals take pride that they regularly trick the GNPS by changing their address on their utility bills and manage to register multiple students with different last names using the same address while GNPS neglectfully avoids dealing with the issue and never looks into the registration of students from multiple families who use the same address.

GNPS does not cross-check the address for a new student against the addresses of its current students in order to find out how many students, how many last names and how many parents currently purport living at the address.  

Instead, GNPS sends “investigators” to see whether the new student has a bed at the address.  Obviously, this method is vulnerable to manipulation while it is quite expensive to the taxpayers.

According to articles that appeared in the local newspapers, a house fire on Brokaw Lane in Great Neck over a year ago led to the discovery of three families with three different last names at the same address.  

They were sending a total of nine children to GNPS concurrently who purported living at the same address.  Subsequent to the fire an interview with reporters, the superintendent of GNPS, Dr. Teresa Prendergast, admitted to the use of the same address by three families and concurrent registrations of nine children from the same address at GNPS.  

Prendergast denied the duly responsibility of GNPS to its taxpayers.  She stated that GNPS had no obligation for cross-checking the registration of multiple families using the same address.  Obviously, Prendergast’s response is an unacceptable excuse showing negligent conduct on behalf of the school district.

The permanent residents of Great Neck pay a substantial portion of the cost for the education of the temporary residents.  According to some estimates, an average student in the Great Neck public schools costs about $30,000 per year whereas an average residence in Great Neck brings only about $10,000 of school tax revenue.

As recently reported by the local newspapers based on a school projection there is a plan to add eight classrooms at Baker and Lakeville Schools at a cost of $9.7 million.  

Oddly, according to Mr. John Powell, assistant superintendent for Business at the Great Neck Public Schools, implementation the $9.7 million construction cost would not have any tax impacts on the taxpayers as the plan is that the funds for the new construction are going to come from teachers’ retirement and worker compensation reserves.

Are teachers’ future retirement benefits being compromised as a result of the new construction at Baker school?  Doesn’t sound persuasive.  

In any event, the funds for teachers’ future benefits initially came from taxes and if there is a surplus due to excessive tax collection the surplus corresponds to a lower future collection of taxes from the taxpayers.

The school district has previously announced that their cost of construction is 35 percent higher due to its obligation of paying prevailing wages, nonetheless, it is unclear how a cost of $9.7 for eight classrooms can be justified.  The cost of construction for a 4,000 square foot house (similar square footage for eight classrooms) in Great Neck is only $700,000.

When there is a substantial number of houses are being foreclosed (see any recent issue of Great Neck Record for lists numerous foreclosures of the houses in Great Neck) the school officials certainly could act more responsibly by reducing the operating costs and expansion based on unsubstantiated projections.  

They also can stop the abuse of the system by cross-checking the addresses of students in GNPS’s database to make sure the presence of single-family residents in single family units.

If the GNPS officials do their due diligence, the need for more classrooms would no longer be a prevalent issue and the taxpayers would get some relief from living in the number 1-2 highest tax county in the nation.

Eli Hematian

Great Neck

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