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Updated: No Formal Response From Northport Board on Merger; Resident Suggests Merging All LI School Districts

School Board Vice-President Wills said the board hasn’t discussed the issue; local resident suggests consolidating all school districts in Suffolk into one.

In the wake of the held by the Elwood School District on Jan. 6, Northport Board of Ed Vice President Karen Wills said that board members have not yet discussed the proposal.

Calling it a “very informative” meeting, Wills said there are many factors involved in the process in order for consolidation to occur, including approval by a majority of voters. “We have not formalized a response,” to the Elwood Board of Education, she said, adding that the board would keep the public informed.

The idea of district consolidation had been raised by Elwood Superintendent Peter Scordo at a Dec. 2 workshop.  Letters were sent to the five contiguous districts which actually touch Elwood – South Huntington, Commack, Harborfields, Half Hollow Hills, and Northport – to gauge interest in exploring the possible benefits of consolidation.

In the public portion of Monday’s Board of Ed meeting, East Northport resident Albert Prisco suggested to members of the board that all 75 districts in Suffolk County be consolidated into one, just as New York City has one school administration under one chancellor. “My prediction is that we can save a thousand million dollars and finally the long-suffering taxpayers can get a reduction,” he said.

At one point in the exchange, Prisco turned his back to the board to suggest to the audience that the problems stemming from the  LIPA tax grievance could be avoided under such a scenario. Board President Stephen Waldenburg told Prisco that he should not be using the public portion of the meeting as a “soapbox.”

“I don’t like that language,”  Prisco responded, citing that he had a right to express his opinion.

 Waldenburg replied that he had turned his back to the board and was addressing the audience rather than the board members, hence his use of the term “soapbox.”

New York State's Open Meetings Committee said that the Open Meetings Law doesn't mention public participation except to say that if the board does allow public participation, members of the public must all be treated equally.

"In those instances, it has been advised that a public body must treat all persons in a like manner. For instance, the public body can adopt reasonable rules to ensure fairness; i.e., allowing those who want to speak a specific period of time to express their views," according to the New York Department of State.

The Northport Board of Education asks all participants to address the board rather than the audience. 

Waldenburg added that he appreciated Prisco’s enthusiasm.

albert j prisco January 19, 2011 at 05:05 PM
Very good reporting, however i live in East Northport not Northport couldn't afford it! Adding to My suggestion of one district for all of Suffolk County, like New York City has, we should discuss the mergers with the surrounding five other school districts, and let the taxpayers voices be heard in a five district vote. Albert J Prisco
Kelly Campbell January 19, 2011 at 09:46 PM
Thank you so much for your comment. I have updated the article to reflect the town of your domicile. Your suggestion is very interesting. I think we should look at all options more closely.
Debbie Sullivan January 20, 2011 at 03:43 AM
Thanks for posting, Mr. Prisco. My apologies for putting you in Northport. I'll be attending the Elwood Board meeting tomorrow and will ask for an update on the response from the other districts concerning possible consolidation.
Jack March 03, 2011 at 01:46 AM
Merging school districts is an absolute must to begin reducing costs. Property taxes need o be reduced. The status quo is a taxpayer ripoff. The school boards are either weak or don't care.
Al Gonzales March 05, 2011 at 01:01 PM
Prisco - A thousand million dollars? Holy cow, that sounds great. A billion gazillion would be better and they better mind their language when using words like soapbox! Is there going to be a meeting when this colorful character is not directly quoted? Enjoy your enhanced STAR exemptions and get a hobby other than letter writing and board meetings. No wonder the board and the district gives us no credibility. Get out the tinfoil hats.
albert j prisco March 05, 2011 at 02:44 PM
Gonzales Yeah, if politician would use a thousand million dollars instead of the familar one billion maybe the people would wake up to the hole where in. And i do have a hobby I am a big hockey fan, can't go to games like when i was a kid in the city, for $2 i sat in the balconey at Madison Square Garden and watched the Rangers, now i sit home and watch on tv not the same.And Maybe, AL, more people should attent the Board Meetings and write letters, and vote, 42% last election, so please don't criticize me because i am an activist!
Debbie Sullivan March 05, 2011 at 07:11 PM
I used the "thousand million dollars" analogy with my daughter who couldn't quite grasp the concept of how much one billion dollars is actually worth -- and that made her understand the enormity of the number. It's just another way of looking at it. As for the Board of Ed meetings, there's a lot of good dialogue that takes place, and a lot of very credible ideas put forth by members of the community. It'd be great to see more people attend, even just for part of the meeting. The next one is this Monday at 7:30. Budget discussion!

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