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A way to allocate equal funding for Long Island schools

Wyandanch Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mary Jones attends

Wyandanch Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mary Jones attends the special school board meeting held at the administration building on May 31, 2019. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

Congratulations to reporter Bart Jones for his clear analysis of the complex difficulties in Wyandanch and its public schools, which are so important to the community [“Doing more with less in Wyandanch schools,” News, Nov. 10]. If Wyandanch is to overcome poverty and attain its rightful position as a prosperous community, a good education system is the answer. This report shows that the potential exists.

On Long Island, much has been made of the potential benefits of consolidating school districts, combining purchasing and/or placing supervision in the state’s hands through something like BOCES. Ideas that have been tried have seen limited success.

For some 40 years I have advocated restructuring the finance of education through a combination of state and federal aid, and creation of a countywide taxing system. The county would levy taxes on all properties fairly and evenly through a central agency, then allocate funds on a per-student basis to school districts. Local school boards would operate the schools. This system would bring equity to poor areas and share the tax burden, reduce overhead costs and duplication, and enable schools to concentrate on their primary purpose — to provide quality opportunities for children.

It is time to level the playing field for places like Wyandanch and others with high taxes and limited resources so kids have at least an even chance for success.

Robert T. Becher,

Bayport

 

Editor’s note: The writer served for three terms on the Bayport-Blue Point Board of Education and was chairman of the Islip Town Board of Assessment Review for nine years, all in the 1970s.

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