It’s 15 weeks before voters in most school districts across the state vote on school budgets.
Voters in this state overwhelmingly support their public schools. (This is just one of the many positive articles from last year when 93 percent of budgets passed on the first try.) This year could be different as this year school districts have to confront the mis-named 2 percent tax cap. I write mis-named because
- your taxes could increase by well over 2 percent because exempt from calulating the increase are things such as capital project costs, liability claims, a portion of retirement costs. Here’s an Auburn Citizen article outlining issues a number of central New York districts have.
- if the community fails to approve your budget, your increase is 0 percent. That’s right: Z-E-R-O. Nada. Nothing.
Today marks 15 weeks before your school district’s budget is up for a vote. A lot of districts first have to decide whether they want to try to override the cap. If they do, they must get 60 percent to vote yes or the budget increase is 0 percent. (See above and repeat.) If your district plans to try an override, let us know and we will help. Call me at 800 342-9810 ext. 6283 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A number of NYSUT locals work all year long on campaigns to make sure budgets get passed. With so much going on this school year, it’s understandable if some locals might have let it slip off their busy plate. I will try every Tuesday to post at least one tip to get you going or keep you on track. More specific strategies will be posted on the Leader Access area of this website.
One common denominator from locals across the state that succeed in getting budgets passed is get a lot of people involved. So, create a school budget campaign committee and ask for volunteers. If this is new, you might want to write a letter explaining the committee and the tasks it will support. Will the committee help
- create a mailing explaining the budget,
- make phone calls to district residents to get out the vote, or
- write letters to local newspapers about what the school budget means?
Perhaps it will do all three and much more. Think about the importance of budgets that are educationally sound, that maintain or increase programs, that support the wide range to activities that contribute to a school, and provide for equipment and supplies and the committee will come up with a lot of tasks I’m sure. Along those lines, remember that “Many hands make light work” so folks know they won’t be doing it alone.