It has been clear for several years now that Long Island’s ongoing school budget struggles will force neighborhoods to make some difficult choices. Nevertheless, it is somehow always surprising when one of those difficult decisions is actually made.
Last budget season, Baldwin voted to reduce busing services, and, sure enough, early this school year, a number of parents appeared at board meetings, asking what had happened to all the buses.
Some dramatic cuts to Baldwin’s bedrock extracurricular activities have been avoided. Sportsnite — a tradition now in its 80th year — was saved by a fundraising effort buoyed by the sustained energy of dedicated parents and students. But it was never likely that every program cut proposed in order to meet budgetary constraints could be saved. A certain degree of fundraising fatigue is inevitable in a community where the same people are asking the same people for money month after month.
The group Baldwin4Children.org, which has worked with the Baldwin Foundation for Education to raise private funds for the schools, ran up against a difficult either/or scenario at its meeting on Oct. 2 at Baldwin High School, when members were forced to make funding decisions involving the annual musicals at the high school and middle school, the middle school sports program and the high school bowling program.
The cost of all four programs, said Richard Damm, one of B4C’s leaders, is $69,000. The group had raised a little more than $51,000 as the Herald went to press.
The Oct. 2 meeting, at which discussion focused on which programs to pay for and which to leave unfunded, drew around 150 people. About half of the attendees were BHS students, and some time was spent at the outset deciding whether they should be allowed to vote. (It was eventually decided that only students ages 18 and over could cast ballots.) Attendees were apprised of the four funding scenarios from which they needed to choose: