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Why Vote For the School Budget?

April 23, 2009

To the editor:

On May 19th, we have the opportunity to support our schools by voting on the proposed budget for the 2009-2010 school year. While there may be disagreements about particular items in the budget, we should all consider what might happen if the budget fails to pass.

We would be compelled to enact a contingency budget. If budget increases are above 4%, it must be trimmed to hit the 4% mark. However, if the increases are below this threshold, as we think Croton would be, there are still mandated procedures that must be followed. While salaries, library books and funds related to legal fees may remain in the budget, no additional equipment for teaching purposes could be purchased; this would be a huge setback. In addition, we would have to charge a fee for any activity on school grounds. For example, the PTA and scouting organizations will have to pay to have meetings on school property.

Given the obvious problems with this mandated alternative, I urge district residents to vote to pass the proposed budget.

I also ask for your vote to elect me to the Board of Education, so in the future I will be able to facilitate communication between the Board, the schools’ administration, the faculty, and the parents. I believe transparency is needed in analyzing administrative salaries and custodial salaries in particular. This transparency will help us find ways to trim the budget.

For example, are there management positions that could be combined or even eliminated? Can we find a way to reduce the $900K we spend in custodial salaries by sharing cleaning and maintenance services with the Village? Some of the contention over the loss of two reading support teachers may have been lessened if the families of students receiving support had been contacted early in the budgeting process. There might have been an informational dialogue, allowing the Board and administration to lay out the reasoning behind the program’s restructuring. Parents could have voiced concerns early on. While there would inevitably be disagreements about the outcome, all parties involved would have felt more invested in the Board’s decision.

In my next post I look forward to sharing some research I’ve been doing to discover grants that are available to help with some of our budget issues. As always I welcome your questions and input.

Lisa Cohen (lisac@10520.info), Croton-on-Hudson

On April 28, 2009 7:37 AM, Lisa Cohen said:

Thanks for your comments More Taxes. Just to clarify, this year’s school budget to budget increase is 2.48%. This will translate to a 0% tax increase for Town of Cortlandt residents and a -.67% impact for the Town of Yorktown. Again, these figures are estimated as the towns fix their final assessment levels in June. It was mentioned to me yesterday at a neighborhood gathering that by working to find ways to give both Cortlandt and Yorktown residents a decrease in taxes our Board and school administration could have had an easier time asking for this year’s budget to be passed. Contract negotiations are starting up in our district and I hope both salary freezes, if not reductions in pay, and larger employee contributions towards health insurance are options brought to the table.

On April 24, 2009 1:22 PM, more taxes please said:

Ms. Cohen, Good Luck with your campaign.

The 1st sentence of your 2nd to last paragraph is a good place to start. Not only should the school board be actively looking for management positions to combine/eliminate in lieu of classroom positions; but they should be considering MANDATORY SALARY REDUCTIONS for these and other positions. Many workers in many many companies around the country have already been forced to do so. For example, you would have to cut like 6 or 7 40K workers to equal our District Superintendent’s approximate salary. If that position took even a 15% pay cut you could easily keep one or more teacher’s aide positions. I realize it is taboo to think this way around here but if you want to save the quality of the educational experience in these tough times these are the tough choices that need to be made. After all, aren’t we all supposedly in this together??

A 4.32% increase in the YoY proposed school budget is huge in this economic climate. There are many homeowners in Croton who are barely hanging on now….this bump may put them over the brink. This economic malaise that we are in is not only the worst we have ever seen in this country but is bound to last for quite some time….several more years in fact. Creative out-of-the-box solutions are needed now more than ever….I’m afraid laying off custodians, aides, and cafeteria workers won’t get it done this time.



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