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Nassau County Executive Suozzi: Now, Let Me Run Your Schools

With his election hanging on recounts and absentee ballots and after what some political operatives called a lackluster campaign, Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi grabbed the headlines after his Op-Ed piece ran in Newsday on Sunday. His analysis of why he did not receive a mandate to run the county was that voters were angry that he had not brought down their property taxes. His solution? “Give the control of our schools to the county executive.” He sees himself as the “victim” of the property tax revolt because he thinks that voters held him accountable for school taxes over which he has no control. He writes, “County executive control, if passed by the New York State Legislature, would both reduce costs and improve educational quality.”

Great Neck Board of Education President Barbara Berkowitz was asked for a comment. Ms. Berkowitz made this statement: “Having served on the school board for the past 19 years, I feel far more qualified to serve on a Board of Education and to oversee a hugely successful school district than Tom Suozzi, whom, I add, may possibly soon be out of a job. I promise not to tell the county executive how to do his job and I would appreciate him not to tell us how to do ours! We will continue to rely on the members of our community to be the ones to evaluate and advise us about how to run our schools. In this democracy, Mr. Suozzi, the voters of Great Neck have the opportunity to vote for its trustees as well as its school budget. Personally, I certainly don’t think that Suozzi has done such a superb job in Nassau County or in earning the trust of its constituents to now qualify taking on this additional enterprise!”

Great Neck Public Schools Superintendent Thomas Dolan told the Great Neck Record: “I am disappointed in County Executive Suozzi’s recent proposal that the county take over schools. The Nassau County Superintendents’ Association has worked with him over the last year to find ways to solve problems collaboratively. We have never identified the county as the problem, or the executive as the villain. This is not a solution as much as it is a strategy to divert attention away from the results of the recent county election. Schools are complex, education-based organizations. The skill set required for their operation is a deeper one than the county executive might know.”