No easy answers in high school district

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Board members and administrators are going to bear the brunt of the criticism for the cuts that end up being made. But the issues that led to a $2.65 million shortfall go well beyond the walls of the district’s central offices.

The high school district will receive $1.4 million less in state aid next year than it did in 2009-10, if Governor Cuomo’s proposed budget is passed. While it is slated to get 5 percent more than this year, that is hardly enough to cover increases for health insurance and pensions, which are rising at two to three times that rate.

We recognize that the state had to make cutbacks to solve its own budget crisis, but it has done so by passing costs on to local residents, while imposing a tax cap that limits a district’s ability to raise money. That combination forces these cuts.

It was good to see so many residents turn out at the Feb. 12 board meeting to show their support of various programs. We were glad that the speakers, a mix of parents, students and graduates, stayed on point and avoided unproductive attacks on school officials that often happen in emotional situations. We hope to see more of the same when the public gets its next chance to address the board, on March 12.

More important, we urge residents to attend the Valley Stream Council of PTAs’ annual Legislative Breakfast on March 16. This Saturday-morning tradition gives Valley Streamers a chance to hear from and speak with elected officials from all levels of government. We hope that residents will turn out and make their voices heard, especially to the powers that be in Albany who can deliver more money and address unfunded mandates.

The Legislative Breakfast is an important opportunity to fight for education. Anyone with a vested interest in the high school district budget should be there. State lawmakers need to know just how much Valley Streamers value their school system and all the opportunities it offers students.

We also urge the Board of Education to hold off on adopting a budget until April. Let’s let the lawmakers hear from the community first, and hope some positive changes are reflected in the state budget, which is due April 1, in the hope that a more palatable school budget can be created.

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