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More straight talk on schools needed, Feb. 8, 2006

I just got back from the Suffolk State of the Schools Breakfast, sponsored by the Suffolk Education Foundation.

The event was held at King’s Fork School and while it was nice to see the shiny new school and hear of the accomplishments of the school system, I nonetheless came away a little disappointed.

Perhaps I was expecting too much, coming as close as it does to the president’s State of the Union address, but I had hoped to hear more about what lies ahead than what has happened in the past.

We paid 15 bucks a ticket or something like that to hear top school officials speak and I for one would have liked to have heard a little more than simply how great we are and about all the PTA meetings School Board Chairman Lorraine Skeeter has to attend and her difficulties mastering text messaging.

I was hungry for meat but was served merely cotton candy. We got a video presentation that was played on monitors stationed throughout the school’s cafeteria or whatever it was that would have made any sports bar proud.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that all of Suffolk’s schools are accredited, but I already knew that and, frankly, with all the tax money poured into the schools in recent years, I think we should expect nothing less.

Last week Superintendent Milton Liverman unveiled a proposed budget that calls for $6 million more local funding n that’s about $300 more from every household in the city n and this with an enrollment that is expected to be down from the previous year.

I would have liked to have heard more of a justification for that expenditure coming at a time when n while our houses may be worth a little more on paper —

families’ real incomes are declining and gasoline prices are soaring. Also, I believe more attention should have been focused on what we’re going to do now, not what we did last year.

I don’t mean to be down on the schools. Like a small newspaper, they are an easy target, and I’m sure officials are trying to do the best they can. I just think that people at the breakfast deserved a little more straight talk and a little less cheerleading.