To the Editor:
As May 15 and school budget votes approach, I encourage North Country residents to vote yes for school budgets.
Public schools in New York State are under attack from forces far beyond the borders of St. Lawrence County. Those forces have worked to drastically decrease school funding over the past several years and pushed legislation that does not help schools and municipalities, but only makes our fight for survival and equity that much harder.
The so-called 2 percent tax cap was sold on the premise that taxes were too high and that such an act would effectively “rein in” out of control spending. The fact is that in the North Country, spending is not out of control.
All schools are struggling to retain basic programming that was commonplace years ago. Many districts feared that the 60% majority was too big a risk and were forced to cut even further or use even more of the all important savings account to meet student needs.
Others, like Potsdam, have dared to override the cap to meet the needs of the district. Unfortunately some running for school board positions are using the budget vote as a campaign tool. Fundamentally, the 60% majority rule is flawed- since when does a no vote count more than a yes vote?
Only in the logic of those who would wish to fix the game through fear and intimidation. On May 15, let’s demonstrate that we are not afraid to put up fair and responsible budgets. I think it would be fabulous if every district passed its budget by a huge majority.
That would show the naysayers that we are united behind our schools, and it will give the school boards the confidence to do what is necessary to save education from the brutal assault.
As you visit your schools on Budget Day I encourage you to look around and appreciate all the good that happens within the walls, around that campus, and in your community.
Much of that goodness begins in that school. The community service, the singing, dancing, and musicals -the sports teams- the thought and the innovation that drives us all toward the future.
All of those things are fostered within the school. On May 15, please vote yes for the school budget. This year, a yes vote is more than just a tally; it’s a vote for optimism and the future.
Michael Zagrobelny, Norwood