Two weeks ago, the Great Neck Record published a letter from Wendy S. Roth, which was factually incorrect and hostile towards the Great Neck Public Schools. Such a letter, perhaps part of a larger movement, is designed to take apart the Great Neck schools and needs a series of strong responses.
Roth’s letter alleges that a retired teacher has no right to express an opinion on a school bond issue or the annual budget. The teacher that Roth refers to is also a resident and taxpayer. Roth seems to object to a person’s freedom of speech! Is Roth both a resident and a taxpayer?
The letter states Roth’s belief that a high tax rate is a result of the Great Neck schools. She indicated that school taxes comprise 80 percent of property taxes. This is blatantly false and Great Neck Public Schools have always had one of the lowest tax rates in Nassau County. As a 40-year resident of Great Neck, my present school taxes are 58 percent of my total taxes. I live in one of the unincorporated areas. If you live in an incorporated area, your school taxes are probably a lower percentage of your total taxes. Roth does not address the ever-increasing number of institutions in Great Neck that are tax exempt!
Pensions and their cost are described by Roth as “unparalleled.” This not true. The state is required by law to set the pension amount that a district must contribute to the pension fund. Currently, all the districts in New York state contribute about 8 percent of a teacher’s salary to the New York State Pension Fund. Local property taxes do not support pension payouts to retired teachers. Great Neck teachers are typically held in high regard and are paid on a salary schedule that is similar the salary schedule of comparable districts. The state-imposed cap on school budgets has resulted in small tax increases in the past few years and Great Neck has lived within the tax cap.
Recently, Great Neck Public Schools have been ranked among the best in the country and Lakeville School as the best in the state! Roth describes JFK and Baker elementary schools as under-performing. This is absurd. Roth points to North Shore Hebrew Academy as outperforming the public schools at a lower cost. She does not mention that students at North Shore Hebrew Academy High School do not sit for New York State Regents exams. The tuition at North Shore Hebrew Academy High School is in the mid-thirties, which is much more than the per-capita cost of Great Neck Public Schools students. North Shore Hebrew Academy receives books, busing, computers, a school nurse, a speech therapist, a psychologist and many other services from the Great Neck Public Schools and other districts. And private schools have the option of rejecting students with special needs.
If Wendy S. Roth sees teaching as such a lucrative profession, perhaps she should be a teacher! What is her purpose in trying to destroy the fine and award-winning Great Neck Public Schools?
—Stuart Lubert, EdD