Get involved in school budgeting
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Schools are arguably the most valued institution in any community, whether or not you have children, and being a member of the board is one of the best ways to serve that community. It is far from easy work, requiring countless unpaid hours, but it is highly rewarding. School board members put in all those hours each year because they care.
The job requires great patience and determination. School districts are facing unprecedented financial challenges in the years ahead. There is no end of criticism of trustees, and few thank-yous. But we know there are people out there who are up to the task. After all, volunteer boards of education have been going strong in Long Island’s oldest districts since the mid-19th century, and have nurtured and maintained some of the best public schools in the country.
The deadline for filing a petition to run for school board is April 21. Keep in mind that schools are on break the week of April 14-18, so if you’re interested, you must get to your district office by Friday, April 11, to pick up a nominating petition.
Our boards of education need highly qualified trustees to oversee not only districts’ finances, but also educational programs that are very much in jeopardy in these tough financial times. And those trustees need vocal, frank feedback from passionate community members to ensure that our schools maintain the level of excellence we’ve come to expect. We encourage you to get involved, one way or another.
The budget vocabulary
Here are some of the terms you are likely to hear at a budget meeting.
Budget-to-budget increase. The amount of money, in either dollars or percentages, that spending rises from one year to the next.
Tax levy. The total amount of money that will be collected in property taxes to fund, in part, the district’s spending. It’s the number you get when you add up the tax bills of every property owner in the school district.
State aid. The amount of money that comes from New York state government (through state taxes) to support school operations. It is also considered part of the district’s revenue.