Today marks 13 weeks before most school districts across the state put their budgets up for a vote. You may recall this post about the importance of setting up a committee to spread around the GOTV workload.
The tip for you this week is to look outside your local union for help in getting your budget passed. Have you touched base with all the groups who have an interest in developing the budget? Parent groups, student clubs and sports boosters? What about parents of pre-school aged children? Pre-K and kindergarten programs may be reduced or eliminated. Make sure parents know as they will be the ones who will have to find, and pay for, day care if early childhood programs are cut. Have you talked with principals and department heads for their feedback on getting support for the developing budgets?
What about businesses that work with career and technical programs? What about outside groups that may use facilities? Any number of groups — from Boy Scouts to veterans — could be impacted if access to school buildings is cut to save money. The district may need to charge a fee to keep buildings open, or increase fees already in place.
Developing school budgets is increasingly complicated. Here’s a lengthy letter Timothy Kremer of the New York State School Boards recently penned for the Syracuse Post-Standard. Click here for the full link about why the $250 million in competitive grants should be directed to general aid to schools. Here is an excerpt:
If these were better times — and schools were not coming off three or four years of aid reductions — a competitive grant program could be a great way to stimulate progress. Indeed, we must make marked improvements in the number of high school graduates who are college and career ready.
But this year, the Legislature should seek to redirect the governor’s proposed $250 million grant program toward further basic operating aid, especially for high-needs districts.
When school districts that have been playing by the rules all along start questioning their ability to remain “educationally solvent,” the state needs to extend a helping hand — not redesign the game or up the ante.
With that tone in mind, have you talked with your local board members to see if they would be willing to write similar letters to their local newspapers? In this budget fight, we need every warrior we can find to advocate for what kids need.