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Sussman: LI Schools Not 'Pocketbook' for Rest of State

Republican Assembly candidates answers questions at Lawrence Middle School.

Dr. David Sussman, who is running against Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg in the 20th Assembly District race, said Monday that he wants to be the person in Albany to fight the unfair distribution of tax dollars to schools throughout New York.

The 17-year member of the Lawrence Board of Education said it’s unfair that Long Island schools only get back a percentage back of what they send to the state, which causes a huge strain for residents who are buried in taxes.

“We can’t have a government system where people can’t afford to support it,” he told the audience at Lawrence Middle School. “Why is Hewlett considered a pocketbook for New York City?”

Sussman was asked a series of questions by a moderator from the League of Women Voters before audience members asked their own questions. The event was organized by the Lawrence Central Council PTA. Weisenberg, who was scheduled to participate, canceled days before due to the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

Here are some of the issues discussed:

The 2 percent tax cap: Sussman said he “completely” supports the tax cap put into effect by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He said that before the cap, municipalities had looked at taxpayers as an “endless supply of money.”

Lawrence’s record: Audience member (and former school board candidate) Barry Ringelheim grilled Sussman on the district’s sinking grades during his 17-year tenure.

The board member defended his record, saying the “district has changed substantially” over the years, with 71 percent of the student population now receiving free or reduced lunch, and that the change came quickly. He also said many students have limited English skills.

“If you look past the shock, we’re doing quite well,” he said.

Tenure: Sussman railed on the current tenure system, which allows teachers to receive tenure after three years on the job. When asked about his tenure approval rate, Sussman said there was only instance where he voted against giving tenure.

“I am completely against the system,” Sussman said. “But while it’s in use, I will go by the rules. Three years is not enough time.”

State-funded education everywhere: Sussman suggested that the state should “subsidize” secular education in every school, so that parents can choose the best school for their children.

“Education should follow the customer,” Sussman said. “Anything that inhibits competitions produces mediocre results. I want to free the education system.”

The Republican candidate said that school districts already pay for nurses and books, “I see no problem paying for teachers in secular courses.”

Carmela Soprano October 03, 2012 at 10:08 AM
What a farce. The district's scores are tanked. Second to the last in academic score in Nassau County. The district saw the trend and has not been responsive to it. Cut summer school. Cut the remedial programs at the Community Center. Dumped all the experienced teachers in Pre-K to hire new graduates. "Sussman suggested that the state should 'subsidize' secular education in every school, so that parents can choose the best school for their children." He is looking to fight the U.S. Department of Education regarding the separation of church and school. He's using all these platforms to get elected because his real intent is to focus on tort reform to lower physician's medical malpractice insurance rates. Everything else is smoke and mirrors. Sussman is the poster child for failure of public education.
Carmela Soprano October 03, 2012 at 10:10 AM
Further, this gentleman chose to speak on a Jewish holiday when observant citizens could not participate. A total sham.
Igwheet October 03, 2012 at 12:50 PM
The only sham here is your ridiculous comment. Anyone who read the article can see it's a desperate attempt to distort Sussman's record, probably because you have some hidden reason to ignore Harvey's ruinous rein in the Assembly, during which he allowed himself to be bought, sold, and enslaved to the teachers unions; stole hundreds of thousands of taxpayers dollars by manipulating the legislative process to suit his personal greed; refused to correct a decades old, broken formula that cheats long island communities of millions of dollars a year in school aid and forces taxes beyond the threshold of what middle class people can afford; bankrupted Long Beach; hides behind his disabled son to gain sympathy and immunity from criticism; shall I go on. Last, the whole "can't debate because of the succot holiday" is so cynical it's painful. Weisenberg hasn't stepped foot into the five towns during a non election year in decades. He needed a hand-picked tour guide to introduce him to community leaders who, after 20+ years in office, should be on his speed-dial, if not on a first name basis. Weisenberg likes to say no one fights harder. Ugh. What a farce!
suddenlysudz@yahoo.com October 03, 2012 at 01:14 PM
Hopefully people see through this farce. He is part of the problem, not the solution. Read between the lines people. Secular Education? Most of the districts students are in yeshivas. Now he will find a way for the districts to pay for it.
suddenlysudz@yahoo.com October 03, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Lgwheet - you seem to be very passionate about your position I'm sure Weisenberg isn' a good candidate, but from where I stand, he is the lesser of two evils. Sussman's agenda has nothing to do with the well-being of the taxpayer and everything to do with secular education. Have you seen what the Lawrence School Board has become in the last 10 years? It should reflect that of the school population and it doesn't. He has an agenda, as do all or most of the Board members.
Carmela Soprano October 03, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Weisenberg stole? Why isn't he in jail then? The loophole was closed after he put in his papers for retirement from his other jobs as a teacher and police officer. I receive my Tier 1 pension and work for the government too. According to you, I'm stealing too! No law was broken. Secondly, I see Weisenberg in the Five Towns at least once a month - all the time. You apparently have your eyes and ears shut. As far as brining up his child into this conversation, you are utterly pathetic. If you ever met Ricky, you would be eating those words right now. The only thing that is a farce here are your comments. You're drinking the koolaid and you don't even know it. Everyone knows Weisenberg. Get out of your insular cardboard box already.
Carmela Soprano October 03, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Yes. Let the taxpayers pay for public education in the yeshivas. Sussman wants it badly. Sucking off the Lawrence School District some more. 17 years of downward spiraling education at the Lawrence School District since Sussman has been there. That's his credo. He has done nothing except get rid of school buildings.
suddenlysudz@yahoo.com October 03, 2012 at 06:31 PM
By the way, I've seen Weisenberg at more school functions than Sussman and Sussman's the Board member. Ive shaken Weisenberg's hand, he has even engaged my children in conversation. In all my years in the district I have yet to meet Mr. Sussman.
Carmela Soprano October 03, 2012 at 07:47 PM
"Sussman: LI Schools Not 'Pocketbook' for Rest of State" - okay, so how about the local public school districts paying for secular education in yeshivas? Yeah, on the backs of all the taxpayers. It will go right to the Office of Civil Rights and it will be heavily fought. Now, who wants to use taxpayer money to litigate the separation of church and state? Sussman has reached a new low.
TV Critic October 04, 2012 at 01:38 AM
Carmela, I guess you didn't read your script close enough. Harvey voted against the tax cap and is for higher taxes! He voted against Gov. Cuomo's recommendations in favor of allowing higher taxes. Maybe rich TV stars like you can afford Harvey's higher taxes, but us regular people just can't afford Harvey.
Igwheet October 04, 2012 at 03:15 AM
Who do you mean exactly by "all the taxpayers"?
Igwheet October 04, 2012 at 03:17 AM
Need I remind you that if most of the district's students are in private schools, that would make most of the taxpayers are the parents?
Igwheet October 04, 2012 at 05:29 PM
I'm passionate because I live in another district and my taxes are double those in dist 15, and my property values are far lower. It has to do with high taxes and the certainty that taxes will keep on rising. Sussman has no agenda beyond making sure the people who already live here aren’t forced to move because they can't afford their property taxes. Harvey could care less, and show no signs of changing if he gets another term. I really don't understand how anyone can accuse Sussman of wanting to harm Lawrence schools. He and his children are Lawrence HS graduates, and he was on the board all while his kids were there. His only agenda was lowering taxes, and sticking it to arrogant board members who didn't care they were wasting taxpayer money, even though they were simply wasting district resources. That’s not good for the kids either. This should be the agenda of any taxpayer, public school parent or otherwise. Why fault Sussman for being the only one who saw things this way?
Igwheet October 04, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Another point ---- Right now, Lawrence has one of, if not the lowest taxes on long Island. This wasn't achieved by taking away services, and no matter how loudly opposition groups insist, Lawrence school performance is not down because of lower standards, but because the student population doesn't come from Lawrence Cedarhurst and Woodmere anymore, but from lower income families in Inwood. It's just a fact of life that academic performance in lower income students is lower than middle and upper income students. This would have happened no matter who was on the board. All this aside, whether Sussman is just the lesser of two evils, or the absolute best guy for the job, it's still time to replace Harvey.
suddenlysudz@yahoo.com October 04, 2012 at 06:28 PM
lgwheet, you obviously do not have children in the district. I've been respectful of your opinion and appreciate a good debate, but you have never been more wrong. I've witnessed single handedly the things that have been stripped of the children in the district; from school trips, to inadequate spacing, to renting out portions of the buildings for afterschool programs for Yeshivas, lack of textbooks, I can go on and on.

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