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Happy to see School Board take a stand

To the editor:

Being a former School Board member, I was happy to see the board take a stand against the “strong arm” tactics being attempted by some members of City Council who wish to take over the duty and responsibility of selecting a site for an elementary school to serve the children in the Whaleyville and Holland boroughs.

How appropriate it would be if certain Council members and certain School Board members would begin to look at the true needs of all children rather than worry about votes needed for re-election in their boroughs. The political game, unfortunately, never seems to be played on a level field.

While I was on the School Board, City Council was considering the “Village Concept.” This included the possibility of building neighborhood schools, specifically at that time an elementary school for the Holland community and another for the Whaleyville community. However, when Council was asked by the School Board for direction, as well as if the Council would be able to afford funding neighborhood schools, the School Board was left in limbo — without direction. Therefore, the Board voted and approved two plans:

1.The recommended plan was to build one school to support students from both Holland and Whaleyville on a central site, trying to be fair to both communities.

2. The alternate plan was to build an elementary school in both boroughs if Council could fund the building of the facilities and continue support of the operation of both facilities.

During these difficult financial times, it is apparent the citizens of Suffolk cannot afford the luxury of building neighborhood schools across the entire city. Fortunately, for the taxpayer, City Council has approved building one elementary school to serve the Holland and Whaleyville communities, but, unfortunately, it has again been put on hold.

Is it not ironic that with the upcoming City Council and School Board elections, all of a sudden, the councilman representing the Holland community seeks a vote for City Council to take charge of finding an appropriate site to build an elementary school? Would the site selected be one that would be fair to both Holland and Whaleyville communities, or would it favor the Holland community? How coincidental this would be if this decision were made just in time for re-election votes to be cast.

It is my hope the School Board will follow through on its responsibility to do what is best for all children, while taking into consideration the fiscal capabilities of the City and its citizens. Yes, School Board members are elected by borough, but, when a vote is cast, it should be for what is best for all children and not whether it will garner another vote for political reasons.

Maybe it is time for Suffolk to consider doing away with elections for School Board members by borough and have a general election of qualified candidates who support the education of all children. During discussions I held with School Board members at national conferences, they were shocked to hear that our School Board members are elected by and represent specific boroughs and not the entire community.

In the upcoming November School Board elections, please look beyond promises being made by individuals. Remember the individual making those promises has only one vote. Instead, look to the individual who has an understanding of the role and responsibility of a School Board member, cares for and respects the worth of each and every student, will study all aspects of issues, and will vote, taking all of this into consideration, according to what they feels will be fair and in the best interests of all concerned.