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.