Be a part of the school budget process


It’s school budget season, and as districts begin laying out their 2019-20 spending plans, it’s a critical time for residents to attend Board of Education meetings.

In the coming weeks and months, districts will present their tentative budgets for next school year, deciding how to allocate resources to cover student programming and other costs. As a resident, you have a right to speak up about how that money should be spent.

School districts have had the challenge over the past few years of paying for increases in health insurance premiums and pension costs while staying within the state-mandated 2 percent tax-levy cap. First applied to local governments and school districts in 2012, the cap limits annual tax-levy increases to 2 percent or the rate of inflation — whichever is lower.

The State Senate passed legislation on Jan. 23 to make the tax cap permanent. Though the bill was designed to protect Long Island taxpayers, who are feeling the effects of the federal limit on state and local tax deductions, it applies greater pressure to school districts, which must deal with rising costs. This could result in staff or program cuts.

Administrators and Board of Education members look to the public for guidance on how funds should be allocated. For example, over the past year, they heard people’s pleas to harden infrastructure to guard against gun violence and earmarked the funds to do so.

We also encourage residents to submit letters to the editor to express their opinions. Let’s create a community conversation about an issue that affects every resident, whether or not they have children in the schools.