Fight Back Friday: May 15 matters

We are now 11 days until most school districts submit their 2012-13 budgets to voters.

The mainstream media is finally putting out more information about the real impact of the tax cap. Here’s one article about what the cap will do to a number of districts south of Kingston and north of Manhattan. Here’s a central New York roundup. Here’s a north country roundup (keep scrolling down past the list of articles.) Here’s a Capital Region roundup. While I could not find information from the southern tier, here’s a thoughtful editorial about school budget votes from a BOCES superintendent from the region.

Then there are articles like this one. We blogged about the Bethlehem schools and their strategy of trying to get voters to override the tax cap about a month ago. The Albany Times Union article outlines for taxpayers the cost of providing a district vehicle to the transportation supervisor. Careful readers will point out that this is yet another example of where dollars intended for classrooms don’t end up there. Yes, it’s important for taxpayers to know this information, but I hope that one article alone doesn’t lessen support for schools. We all know that negative news can affect the outcome of a vote. But this year especially, when budgets that fail after two chances can not contain any increase at all, a “no” vote will devastate schools and their opportunities to provide programs.

Take kindergarten for example. Districts across our state considered taking away kindergarten this year (and click here for the link that Syracuse is still considering it), even though all reports show the importance of early childhood education. Click here to read one of the latest. If a district must go to 0 percent increase in the tax levy, non-mandated programs will most likely go. Kindergarten is not mandated.

So the push is on. Parents, teachers, school boards, administrators and students are out pushing for voters to say yes. NYSUT is running a statewide ad campaign.

In addition to TV ads, NYSUT is also making postcards like this one (there are 4 versions) available.

Do your part and take a good look at your school budget. Take the time May 15 to vote.

One last point: It appears holding a rally to plead for bullet aid worked for the Mohonasen schools in Schenectady County, and many other districts, at least if they were represented by a Republican lawmaker.

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