“Do me a favor” is actually the phrase a number of locals use when they send postcards to their members asking for help on campaigns. We are now three weeks away from when most voters across the state vote on local school budgets. (Remember the largest cities do not submit school budgets to residents.)
And this week we’re asking two favors of you, our readers.
First favor: check this list, by region. It’s the districts we believe are trying to override their local property tax cap:
Capital District: Averill Park, Ballston Spa, Bethlehem, Cobleskill-Richmondville, Galway, Mayfield, Oppenheim-Ephratah, Stillwater
Mid-Hudson: Highland, Germantown
Suffolk: Amagansett, Comsewogue (also known as Port Jefferson Station), Islip, Middle Country, New Suffolk, North Babylon, Remsenberg-Speonk, Rocky Point, Sachem, Three Village, West Hampton Beach,
North Country: Thousand Island, Schroon Lake, Potsdam, Plattsburgh, North Adirondack
Southern Tier: Elmira, South Seneca, Oneonta
Southwestern: Bemus Point
Tarrytown: Greenwood Lake
Western New York: Holland, Niagara-Wheatfield, Yorkshire-Pioneer
Some are on the list are because newspapers or online media have reported they plan to exceed the tax cap. If we missed you, or if your district decided against trying to override, please let us know. You can comment below or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last week was the deadline for districts to decide whether to override tax caps to try to save programs. Weighing heavily is the 60 percent mandate of “yes” votes to override a cap, because if it doesn’t pass the district only gets one more chance at approved and then it must go to a 0 percent tax increase budget.
Second favor: Have you checked with your union to see if there is something you can help with? Your local may be considering a letter-writing campaign or phone calls to residents to educate them on the budget.
Since laws don’t allow school district funds, facilities or channels of communication to advocate for a particular vote or candidate, unions have to step in. Teachers and staff may not espouse partisan positions to students on school time on matters pending before the voters. (Students, on their own, may distribute literature and publish articles in the school newspaper in support of particular board candidates or the budget, but remember: the district can not use district personnel or funds to support those activities.)