This week we learned the final numbers for the 2009-2010 Sag Harbor School District budget, and though we know times are tough financially for schools and taxpayers alike these days, we feel the school board has come up with a fair and reasonable spending plan.
The proposed budget is $29.5 million and it’s something the administration has clearly labored over for months. We feel the board has taken into consideration an array of concerns from different community organizations and individuals who attended meetings related to the budget in recent months, and the board has remained flexible.
We also understand the board has had to take into consideration the current dismal state of the economy and, as witnesses from the front row, no one can say board members have not done their homework in putting together a well thought out package.
When school superintendent Dr. John Gratto visited the Noyac Civic Council meeting to explain portions of the school budget, it was very well measured. Dr. Gratto’s presentation initiated discussions with the civic council on intelligent cost-saving measures, including the purchase of a bus and van which, in the years to come, will allow the district to cut the costs of some transportation services provided by an outside company. Other measures considered spoke to the concerns of residents in the district, including the decision to cut services purchased from BOCES.
And while $29.5 million is not an insignificant amount of money, remember this: this May, should the budget fail to pass after two public votes, the district’s contingency budget would automatically be enacted. The amount of the contingency budget is just $200,000 less than the proposed budget — which equates to a tax savings of $35 a year on the average $1 million property.
As taxpayers, we don’t want to get hit with a huge increase in these troubled times. As parents, we don’t want to see deep cuts to programs for our local school kids. We feel this school board has done a very admirable job in serving both sets of constituencies.