June 18 matters: Schools try again to pass budgets

For those 32 school districts across the state whose budgets did not pass, the next three weeks are crucial. June 18 is the last chance to ask voters to approve a spending increase.

We’re still collecting information about what those 32 districts will do. Here’s one link to news that the Newcomb district will again try to override the property tax cap. This is extremely courageous because — as you’ll recall — if voters do not approve the budget with a 60 percent “yes” vote,  the budget fails and the board must adopt a 0 percent tax levy increase which will, as the article points out, devastate that North Country district.

On Long Island, the Sachem schools won’t try again to override. They will submit a budget at their tax cap of 3.14 percent. This means the district only needs 50 percent to pass the budget. NYSUT has filed a lawsuit saying that this law is unconstitutional.

Below find a message the Sachem CTA President John Troise sent to his membership titled, Why is a Majority Not Enough?

In a recent Siena poll, “Statewide, 55 percent of voters said they would re-elect Cuomo.” Under the Governor’s rules for the tax cap, that wouldn’t be enough to keep him in office. … 55% was not enough to pass Sachem’s first budget, despite the community voicing more than 1,000 “YES” votes than “NO” votes. It was a budget that was formed as a result of a $26 million budget gap caused by crippling reductions in state aid – Sachem is receiving $12 million less state aid than it received in 2009 – and over 200 UNFUNDED STATE MANDATES. It was a budget that included staff cuts and preserved every program the school offers. Thank you to all those who gave of their time and effort in this budget drive. The SCTA supported this budget knowing there were staff cuts, but also knowing that the alternative would be much, much worse. And for Governor Cuomo, it was not enough.

At the time of this writing, Sachem’s Board of Education has been forced back to the drawing board to reorganize a budget that will be adopted by May 29th and put up for a vote on June 18th. The board has decided to present a budget that meets the tax-cap of 3.14%. While they are working to preserve programs, and we are adamantly advocating for the preservation of as many positions as possible, we all know what this means. It means less. Less for the kids. Less for the community. Job losses for dedicated, passionate educators. It means having more votes still means we all lose out.

Unions are predicated on collectivism, both within their own memberships and philosophically at large. They are built on shared sacrifice, shared effort and shared gain. We have shared the sacrifice, we have shared the effort – now we are forced to shoulder the pain. As a Sachem kid, class of ’92, Mario Cuomo did this to my school. We rallied, we petitioned Albany, we stood up to be heard. Some, but not all of it, came back. Now, Andrew Cuomo is doing the same thing to my members. And as angry as we are, and as disheartened as we may feel, and as hard as it’s going to be – we must continue to stand up. We must push back at the politics and agents of those politics who are constantly devaluing our roles, demanding more for less and damaging our school. The most important time to stand up and fight is when someone’s trying to kick you down.

On June 8th the SCTA is participating in a NYSUT rally to Albany to tell the legislators enough is enough. We will tell them again how damaging their policies and practices are. And we must continue telling them as many times as it takes for them to listen and to act. We all have a stake in this – educators, parents and kids – and I urge you to stand up and demand to be heard. There simply is no other way to make change.

In our union, our members have shown the tremendous resolve, dignity and professionalism I always admire but am never surprised to see. Continue to do that. Continue to care for one another as you know your friends are hurting. I’ve always said a district is its people. Continue to put people before politics. And at the same time, put your passion, your anger, your frustration, and most importantly your voice, in channels where it cannot be ignored.
Thank you, always.
In Solidarity,

We’ll keep bringing you updates of budget revotes.

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