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Preparing for a Storm

Posted on 29 April 2010

On May 18, Sag Harbor school district residents will go to the polls and vote on a 2010-2011 school budget of $31,500,811. If that budget passes, it would represent a 12.76 percent tax increase in school taxes for Southampton residents and a 10.16 percent increase for East Hampton residents.

But if the budget doesn’t pass after being put before voters two times, the district will be forced to resort to a contingency budget and required to make an additional $1,649,790 in cuts from 2010-2011 programming.

So what would likely be targeted in such a move? At this point your guess is as good as ours. Possibly sports programs, student clubs, plays and some employees. But who knows for sure? Certainly not the voters.

And that’s a problem.

The 800 pound gorilla that remains seated squarely in the middle of the school board’s desk is these cuts in the event of contingency. We all know there’s a certain dollar amount the school board will have to get down to under a contingency budget, and we imagine the board has some ideas on what those potential cuts might be. But if they have, they haven’t discussed them in public and have yet to let the voters know what they’re thinking.

It’s time to share the pain. The voting public in general, and parents especially, deserve to know what’s at stake in the event this district goes to a contingency budget. How can voters possibly make an informed decision at the poll if they aren’t being given all the relevant information?

So in the coming weeks, we implore the board to offer a real and substantive discussion about what another $1.6 million in cuts would look like to programming. When the storm’s on the horizon, it’s time to make plans — not after the roof has blown off. And if this is our future, we’d better start planning for it now — our children’s education is riding on it.

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2 Responses to “Preparing for a Storm”

  1. Kevin Major says:

    When a storm is in the forecast, it is important to include all relevant data. i agree, we should know what cuts would be made if a contingency budget is adopted. More so, it is extremely important to have the Teachers’ contract resolved. I will not personally vote the budget down if nothing is resolved, but I can see where people would. Let’s face it, no one really wants to go into this next budget year with this huge “blind spot”. For two plus years, the Board and TASH have been at an impasse. This is unacceptable. I’m sad to say, I came late to the “party”. Having attended Board Meetings only since December of ’09, I have seen absolutely no sense of urgency on either party’s part. I hope with some new blood voted onto the Board via the election, that this issue, that I deem paramount, will be finally brought to some resolution. With a large lump in my throat, I ask my fellow voters to pass the budget. Kevin

  2. Clinton says:

    Why do the student programs have to get the cuts if the budget is not approved?

    Why not just reduce all 213 staff’s compensation by just 5% ?

    5% of $22 million saves $1.1 million.

    Teachers, custodians, administrators, TRUST US! Most of us earn 20%, 30%, 40% less than we did a few years ago. If we can do it with a major haircut, YOU CAN DO IT with a trim!!

    Many thanks to you.

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