Vote on school budgets today!

My school district’s proposed budget only increases .74 percent but, because the tax levy is going up 5.4 percent, 60 percent of voters need to approve it today for it to pass.

The tax levy on local taxpayers has gone up because the South Colonie schools have lost $13.4 million in state aid over the last five years. The tax levy has gone up even though language classes and some sports are cut. The tax levy has gone up because the district can no longer use fund balance reserves. The tax levy has gone up even though teachers and administrators gave up a day’s pay to save programs.

I highlight the South Colonie district because it’s also one of only 27 districts trying to override their tax cap. If the budget fails, universal pre-kindergarten, full-day kindergarten, arts and music, early literacy programs and special education support are all at risk.

It’s not just my school district. Here’s a link to more on Capital Region schools from the Albany Times Union. Here’s a link to a Messenger-Post editorial that talks about some Central New York school districts and the challenges they face. Here’s a link to a guide the Syracuse Post-Standard has compiled.

Here’s a link to News 12 coverage of the 124 Long Island school districts putting votes up today, and the News 12 coverage of Hudson Valley school budgets. The Daily Freeman of Kingston has a guide to the mid-Hudson area school budgets here.

Here’s a link to comprehensive NPR North Country coverage. Here’s one excerpt:

Canton Central School has seen a 20 percent cut in staff the last two years alone, and plans to cut another four positions this year, including a social studies teacher, a special education teacher, a librarian. The district will still have a budget shortfall of roughly $430,000 dollars.

Massena is talking about cutting 29 school positions this year. Ticonderoga is slashing 11 positions and  making 12 more positions part time.  Potsdam schools will downsize six jobs.

For decades, schools have been the primary employers in many of our small towns, a real driver of the cash economy: not just teachers, but janitors, bus drivers, maintenance workers.

School job cuts of the last few years are the economic equivalent of a massive factory closing, with hundreds of the best middle-class jobs leaving the region.

Here’s the Post-Star’s coverage of those budgets in the Lake George and Glens Falls region.

Here’s a link to YNN’s coverage of schools in the southwestern area of our state. Here’s the Southern Tier coverage via Pressconnects, the electronic version of the Press & Sun-Bulletin.

Here’s a link to the Buffalo News coverage of Niagara County elections.

As to the Rochester area, here’s the link to read the Fairport-East Rochester Post’s coverage of school budgets, here’s the WXXI coverage of area budgets, and here’s the Democrat & Chronicle’s coverage.

Here’s a link to a Buffalo News article about the impact on several western New York schools, including:

  • Clarence has kept tax increases down as state aid dropped by dipping into savings for the last five years. With those funds nearly gone, the district will now need a 9.8 percent increase in the amount of taxes collected to balance the budget despite roughly two dozen job cuts.
  • Lewiston-Porter has wiped out its savings and would cut 23 jobs next year, but will ask voters to exceed the state-imposed tax cap with a 5.5 percent increase in tax revenue in order to balance its budget.
  • Niagara Falls for years has used layoffs and other cuts to keep taxes steady, but on Tuesday will seek a 3 percent tax increase for the first time in 20 years.

There’s no other choice but to vote for these budgets, even with the cuts, because if budgets don’t pass, there can be no spending increase, whatsoever. That’s thanks to the state’s property tax cap law, which NYSUT has gone to court to fight.

If we missed any links, please let us know. Now go vote!

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