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Family Forum: Do You Plan on Voting in the School Elections?

Let us know your thoughts and sound off in the comment section.

With nearly every school district facing a budget increase and cuts due to reductions in state-aid and increases in contract and health care budget lines, Patch would like to know if and how you plan on voting on May 17.

Voting in support of a budget in every district will mean higher taxes for every homeowner and voting down a budget would mean the same thing, just on a lesser scale. Voting against a budget would also require school districts to adopt a contingency budget, which in every case would mean more cuts in spending and to extracurricular activities.

In responding to this week’s family forum question, Patch would also like to hear your ideas on how you think school districts can think outside the box to make ends meet.

Please feel free to shout out your thoughts in the comment section that appears below.

Katy Cardinale April 27, 2011 at 06:01 PM
I plan on voting and I plan on voting yes. I hope that there is enough correct information put out there so that people realize exactly what they are voting on. I heard Dr. Agruso speak at the Fort Salonga PTA meeting this morning. If the proposed budget passes, it will raise the average families taxes by about $12/month. Of course I hate to have my taxes raised at all. But if the budget fails, the school district can use the contingency budget which will still raise the average families taxes by about $11/month. The downfall is that if the school district is forced to use the contingency budget it is not allowed to use any money for new equipment, including technology. Voting down the budget would not save anyone's job. In addition there is a referrendum on a new roof at RJO. We are only voting to give the district permission to use the money that was previously set aside for this purpose. It will not mean any additional taxes.
Greg Martinez April 27, 2011 at 06:51 PM
Our community, our state, and our nation is collapsing in on itself. Tax increases and ballooning debts will crush us if we do not act. There is no money! We MUST change course now or America will go-the-way of the Roman Empire, decline and fall. I oppose ANY budget increases and ANY tax increases at all levels of government. Our nation is at the edge of an abyss that will lead us too destruction if we do not step back and act forcefully too stop our government at all levels from it's sheer stupidity of budget and tax increases. Reply
Michael April 27, 2011 at 06:57 PM
Well said. Others agree. See below. http://finance.yahoo.com/banking-budgeting/article/112616/imf-bombshell-age-america-end-marketwatch
Michael April 27, 2011 at 07:04 PM
Katy, Dont you think the real issue here is the ongoing growth of school spending and school districts inability to keep budget growth at or near the rate of inflation? While you may be comfortable with $12 a month, surely you realize that that $12 is heaped upon a "monthly" increase last year, an increase the year before that, and an increase the year before that, ad infinitum. Voting "no" does not mean you hate kids or educators, for that matter. It means that you support and demand fiscal responsibility which is woefully lacking on Long Island, New York State and the United States. As parents, we must make cost based decisions regarding our children every day. While we would like to operate with a blank check where our kids are concerned,the reality is that we do not. The price of education is just another cost based decision we must make.
Katy Cardinale April 27, 2011 at 07:46 PM
Michael, I appreciate your comments. Of course I realize that the $12/month is heaped on top of the prior years. My property taxes are impossible and I wish there was something I could do about it. But I don't feel like there is anything I can do about it. The school district is going to make decisions with or without my opinion. I never said that a vote no is against the kids or educators. The vote is NOT a difference between a $12 tax increase or no tax increase. The vote is between a $12 or a $11 increase. Even if the budget vote fails, our taxes will still go up. And since you mentioned the rate of inflation, the new budget is a 1.74% increase over last year. According to inflationdata.com, the annual inflation rate year for March was 2.68%. So the budget actually came in less than the rate of inflation. While I agree that fiscal responsibility is severely lacking in most areas of government today. The beauty of our school system is that it is hyper-local. I am not an expert, but based on the information I have, I believe that OUR school district is making a good faith effort to be fiscally responsible. Other people are upset about cuts, but if you don't cut, who will pay for it? I have a mother and sister who are teachers in another state. Their schools are completely funded through state income taxes. The progams offered the children are not even close to competitive and parents have absolutely no input whatsoever regarding curriculum or budgets.
Dawn Marie April 27, 2011 at 08:12 PM
It is important to vote, whether you chose yes or no to the budget proposals. I frequently come across those who do not vote, but then complain when the outcome they desired did not hold true. As an educator and parent, I would like to think I will always vote yes to any budget presented, but the reality is that increases may eventually get to big for my pocketbook. Although voting a budget down does not mean you "hate kids or educators, " as previously commented, it will cause some ill-feelings. From a teacher's standpoint, when a budgets gets voted down, things are taken away. Those things may be something tangible, like workbooks. That might not seem like a big deal, just photocopy, right? Some teachers on only allotted a certain number of photocopies or amount of paper. Easy solution- have students take notes, sound good? It does until a bunch of parents complain that their kids have to take too many notes. It is a crazy cycle. A single missing workbook does not create poor education, but a hostile working environment does. Everyone, teachers included, has to be willing to make some concessions if these budgets go down. The original question asked about voting. Please do. Vote yes if you can afford your increases and wish for your programs to remain as they are. Even if you vote no, you will send a message that you can no longer afford the taxes being presented.
Michael April 27, 2011 at 08:12 PM
I understand what you are saying, but doing nothing, or voting yes because you feel that that is your only choice just will perpetuate the situation. By the way, the inflation figure you cited was for March 2011 only, not the full year. The rate of inflation in 2010 was 1.64% and in 2009, it was -0.34%. My guess is that your budget and tax levy went up by more than those numbers. Here are the annual inflation rates for the past 10 years. Readers should compare those numbers to annual budget increases to see how many times they came in under the mark. 2010 1.64% 2009 -0.34% 2008 3.85% 2007 2.85% 2006 3.24% 2005 3.39% 2004 2.68% 2003 2.27% 2002 1.59% 2001 2.83% 2000 3.38% Here
Katy Cardinale April 27, 2011 at 08:35 PM
Thank you for the numbers Michael. And just to clarify, it is not MY budget. I am just a parent and taxpayer like the rest of us. I do not represent the school district. Even the year over year number you gave of 1.64% is very close to the 1.74% increase they are proposing. They are making a budget for the coming year, guessing on what things may cost. Unfortunately, this is the first year I have been paying attention to the school budget so I do not know what the previous years were like. My anger comes at the restrictions placed on the school district through different laws. Such as "prevailing wage". I learned this morning that the labor costs to replace the roof is set by the state, not by the contractors bidding. This will increase the cost by hundreds of thousands of dollars. And the insane idea that the district has to borrow millions of dollars to cover costs from Sept.-Dec. when the state and local tax money start coming in. Apparantly the interest alone can cost up to $700k. This is the government itself is costing us million dollars.
Maureen Rossi April 27, 2011 at 10:16 PM
My kids received an outstanding education in the KP district and I will be voting yes for the school budget. The cost of edcuation on LI is unstainable. However, this is no fault of the KP BOE or adminstrators - they have worked diligently to produce a resposible budget for our community. The problems are many and include the high cost of teacher's pension and benefits and costly mandates, some of which do not enhnace education. Laws like the Triboro law (or perhaps it's an Act) that automatically provide step raises even during collective bargaining. I will say and stand by the statement that educators are not the enemy - many of them are outstanding and they dedicate their lives to bettering the lives of our children. I have good news for them - their union is powerful - I have bad news for them - their union is too powerful and it is a detriment to their profession. A huge problem with the cost of PUBLIC education is that year after year the government (NYS) continues to pay less for it. The federal government, under special education laws enacted in the 70's, should be flipping the bill for special education services and they aren't. Children didn't create the behemoth federal or state deficit and we must not balance the budget on their backs. If we want this state/nation to be great we must provide our children with a great education.
Maureen Rossi April 27, 2011 at 10:17 PM
Listen wel all know throwing money at education doesn't make it better - look at the Roosevelt School District debacle, the only school district in NY to be run by the state and for years it was millions in arrears. We are also faced with grossed inequities in how education is funded on LI. Kings Park is predominantly middlle class and because of a very small sector of residents make 7 figures, we have an exaggerated wealth ratio leaving us with less education funding. Bottom line - LI'ers pay too much for education. We send billions more to Albany than we received back in services (according to the LIA). The new head of the Standing Committee on Education is Kings Park's own Senator - Senator John Flanagan. We (KP Patch) has asked him to write an op-ed about ways to make education sustainable on LI - I look forward to posting that and reading that! We put out some of the best and brightest in the nation on the Island - colleges want our kids. We are in unprecedented financial times but we must keep our eye on the prize - we must invest in our kids.
Dan Warne April 28, 2011 at 02:50 AM
The teachers have to do a reality check, 98 employees of the KP school district made $100,000 or more last year. If you cant take a wage freeze to help out, or you cant live on that $100,000, seek employment elsewhere. This is getting out of control.
chefcristo April 28, 2011 at 10:33 AM
greg, i wish i could have said it better! your comparison with the roman empire says it all.
lawyer and mom April 28, 2011 at 01:25 PM
I am so glad I voted AGAINST Cuomo. By withholding aid from the schools, he didn't save taxpayers money. He just transferred the tax burden to homeowners through increased real estate taxes.
Debbie Danley April 28, 2011 at 01:43 PM
I always vote as that is our true voice as taxpayers. There is alot of critiquing and I understand why but I also think the Board of Ed has a daunting task when in comes to constructing a budget, especially in hard economic times. When making cuts, someone will be unhappy. Personally, I am sadden to see so many teachers laid off because the demands placed on our children increase and increase and as class sizes go up the individualized attention goes down. I too, was at the Fort Salonga PTA meeting and I listened to our superintendent speak about the adopted budget. I forget the number of teachers that are being laid off but I think it was about 30, that on top of 20 something last year and more the year before. Enrollment is going down and losing teachers due to enrollment is understandable but we have cut alot of educators in the past three years. When I asked how many students will be in a class next year, I was told most classes will have 22 some 24 they are looking to avoid 25 students per class. 22 is a great class size and I am comfortable with that number. What I don't understand is how we are laying off so many teachers and class sizes are going down. I guess it remains to be seen
We Heart Long Island April 28, 2011 at 08:40 PM
No, the reality is there is a contract that set these salaries. If you don't want to pay teachers $100,000 or more don't sign those contracts. It's not a teachers job to "help out" That's the job of the school board and taxpayers.
Norman May 03, 2011 at 12:35 AM
So DW what do you think is a fair wage for teacher then? Guys who work the Highway Department can make close to 100k and they don't require 1/10th of the education that teachers do. If you getting paid a lot less why would anyone take this important job? PS...Kings Park is one of the lowest paying districts on LI. They have a great deal of turnover (teacher and admin) because they pay less than every surrounding district and much lower than anything west of here. What do you think would be a good starting salary and salary after 20 years for a teacher with a BA, masters and more credits beyond that?
Norman May 03, 2011 at 12:36 AM
You got it, Penny. And he would sooner die before imposing a tax on earners of 250K or more.
Michael May 03, 2011 at 01:14 AM
Why would anyone take a teaching job? Well Norm, im thinking high pay, ridiculously easy hours compared to most private sector positions, more vacation than most private sector workers can even dream of, outlandishly cheap medical benefits, and a pension plan that provides a hell of a lot more than just a safety net for the retirement years. How did I do? And please lets not even get started on the $100K Highway Department jobs. Two wrongs certainly dont make a right.
chefcristo April 29, 2012 at 12:49 PM
you saidi it ALL, greg. no, no, no BUT YES FOR DAN FUSCO.

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