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 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Croton-on-Hudson