Folks, and those who are presently incarcerated or institutionalized. This one is about the School Board of the East Williston School District (EWSD).
The EWSD is presently in decline with its national ranking having plummeted, rampant teacher absenteeism, a present superintendent that is both unqualified and incompetent plus an embarrassment to the District, difficulty in placing Wheatley seniors in the school of their choice, $150,000+ annual teacher salaries plus massive additional benefits, $30,000+ annual cost per student, a 9.75 student to teacher ratio that continues to decline, a refusal to eliminate waste, a refusal to eliminate self-serving polices of Israel (earlier) for himself and (presently) his wife Bartscherer, etc., etc. The end result is that EWSD residents pay the highest average school taxes in Nassau County( because of the massive waste), the economic effect of which has been to unnecessarily depress property value. In order to explain this shocking predicament, one needs to examine both the past and present members of the EWSD Board.
Well, what about the past. Here’s my take on what came down earlier. It was Entine who started the massive giveaway program. She was followed by Bergtraum who was possessed by a quest for power despite her incompetence. It was Bergtraum, more than anyone else, who is responsible for the District’s present problems by allowing the self-serving policies of former teacher and Union President David Israel to run the EWSD; further, she refused to act on any recommendation that did not agree with her misguided agenda. Then there was school board members Karol, Wasserman, Roher, Kaplan (a total incompetent), Ritz (a Delilah), etc. This was the group that supported the teachers and their union and most of the measures discussed above that fostered the District’s present situation. It was this same group who were campaigning/pushing for a fourth building (Bergtraum/Entine were on the board; Wasserman/Kaplan co-chairs of the campaign). Where would our District (and taxes) be now with a 4th building?!?! Other districts are closing schools, i.e. Mineola. Thankfully, they lost that election—and no 4th building. Along the way, the District was fortunate to have the services of Eleanor Zatlin, Robert Kushner, Sigi Huhn, and John O’Kelly who attempted—but unfortunately were unable—to mend a broken school district.
The present Board? I shudder every time I think of them. Once again, here is my take (on the five of them).
- Kamberg: He is President of the Board. Some of us justifiably refer to him as Konberg since he is an untrustworthy, sweet-talking, self-serving con man. My file on him is almost as thick as those for Superintendent Lewis and former President Ritz.
These cases come to mind regarding Konberg:
- He used any and all tactics to get elected to the Board. Some of us consider his tactics to be borderline fanatical. He and his supports spread vicious and (false) anti-Semitic rumors attributed to Huhn.
- This desperado, in his frantic attempt to get elected, also courted the senior vote with a free luncheon at Jonathans. I wonder what those seniors who got konned and voted for Konberg think now.
- Following Wasserman’s removal from the Board, he refused to allow an election. Instead, he and his cohorts “interviewed” prospective and interested individuals. He/they chose Freier, Konberg’s yes man. Despite the Board lacking any financial background/ experience/ expertise, Huhn was bypassed. I also interviewed for the job and outlined how they could better assist our high school seniors in gaining admission to the school of their choice. They frantically took notes, but in the end, they apparently did nothing since it involved work on the part of some of the Administrators (guidance counselors, associates, etc.), a part of the fat on the staff who are there to simply cash their checks.
- Refused to ask teachers for any givebacks in 2010-11. Provided Lewis with a 5-year extension, thus tying the hands of the District. Also provided the teachers this year with a sweetheart contract extension.
- Lied to the community about the real salary increases the teachers received and will be receiving in the future.
- Refused to comment when Lewis publicly drew an analogy between me and the Gestapo.
Of course, there’s more. There are some of my academic and business ethics lectures (based on my book) where I have used Konberg—along with Israel, Bergtraum and Ritz—in case-study analyses. But as far as I am concerned, Konberg should presently be barred from the school grounds.
- Freier: Strictly Konberg’s stooge. No experience with education or finance. Where did Konberg find this guy?
- Keefe: Keefe was “elected” when he ran unopposed. He is a former teachers’ union president who is obviously a teachers’ union man. Make no mistake. He is there to represent the teachers—not the taxpayers, senior citizens, and, most importantly, the schoolchildren.
- Fallarino: As a former Board member put it, “he has tried desperately to play both ends against the middle, and failed miserably.” A major disappointment and an individual not to be trusted.
- Slone: “Elected” when she ran unopposed. An absolute zero, totally devoid of the minimum necessary qualifications, who simply should not be on the Board. If she had any pride, she would resign.
Why do these people serve on the Board? Reasons have already been documented but I believe they are there to primarily gain an advantage for their kids or grandkids at the expense (as noted in an earlier article) of the kids of other members of our community. If you don’t believe that statement, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. What parent believes that if their youngster and the child of a Board member were being considered for valedictorian, that—given how the District operates—their kid would be selected (I’m still trying to locate The New York Times when this happened at another District). For example, Keefe’s daughter was recently hired for a EWSD position. Innocent? Was the hiring process truly objective? You make the call.
I close by issuing a call to members of our district who are concerned about taxes, seniors, and (most importantly) schoolchildren to consider running for the Board this May. I hate to put it this way, but almost anybody would be better than what we have now.
Next month: Superintendent Lewis