Letter To The Editor: Barbara Berkowitz Is a Proven Leader

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The virulence written over the course of the last year, both in local newspapers and on social media, requires some reflection. How did we get here and what is being done for our schools? We have seen articles accusing the Great Neck Public Schools of endangering our children prior to announcing a solid reopening plan even while administration and Board members were working tirelessly to meet the governor’s dictates. We have seen allegations of Board members being out of touch with the community as their children are no longer students in the district when, in fact, they have more than 6,000 children in the district. We have read articles comparing budgets from 30 years ago to current budgets without any correlation to the cost of living, salaries or home prices. (For the record, the budget tripled in the last 30 years but the house next door to mine sold for five times the amount it sold for in 1994. It would seem that the district is doing something right by protecting and contributing to the value of most people’s largest investment.)

Recently, there were accusations that the Board of Education intentionally scheduled the annual budget vote and Board elections to conflict with the observance of Shavuot so that many would be unable to vote. The third Tuesday in May was not calculated, but rather dictated by the State Education Department. The third Tuesday of May, as dictated by the state, unfortunately fell on the date on which Shavuot was drawing to a close. A quick Google search shows that this is the first time this has happened in the last 20 years, so it is easy to understand how this could have been overlooked.

While you may disagree with me, by now we have seen the email from our Board of Education President Barbara Berkowitz in which she took (undue) responsibility and announced a resolution. We will now vote on May 11. Imagine for a moment if our Board of Education was headed by inexperienced and powerless individuals. Would they have had the ability to connect with legislators and Regents to facilitate a date change? Our Board of Education gets things done.

And while all members of our Board are respected and appreciated, our reality right now is that only one of them is up for re-election—Barbara Berkowitz. Barbara, throughout her tenure on the Board of Education, has been a proven leader. She is well-respected by local government simply because she has experience in our schools that is unmatched. Mrs. Berkowitz started her volunteer work with the Great Neck Public Schools decades ago while her children were at E.M. Baker School. Since that time, she has tirelessly devoted countless nights and weekends for the benefit of our children and community.

We have programs and services in Great Neck that other districts discuss at their Board meetings, desperate to emulate. We have highly ranked schools that did not happen by accident. We have programs and services in this district that keep our children safe, allow them to compete for placement in excellent colleges and maintain our property values. This is the result of years of hard work and investment in our district. Our reality is that Barbara

Berkowitz is our most experienced Board member and we need to re-elect her.

Remember to vote for Barbara Berkowitz on Tuesday, May 11.

—Diane Yellis
Great Neck Parent

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