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Shrinking Staffs

Posted on 12 December 2008

While we were surprised to hear that the New York State Commission on Property Tax Relief recommended that neighboring schools with smaller populations consolidate to give relief to taxpayers, we must say that we aren’t opposed to the idea. We are not talking, however, about the combining of students among schools. We are simply talking about consolidation of resources and some of the administration.

This kind of consolidation for schools is an important issue that is coming up for districts across the country; but it’s a complicated one. For lower level administrators who put 100 percent into their jobs and work as hard as they can for small salaries, we applaud you. On the other hand, for those administrators who rely on the underdogs to do most of the work and continue to get paid high salaries —  we have a problem with you. We hope that should consolidation move to the next step, it would be these administrators and the jobs they do that would be seriously examined and, if warranted, consolidated with other districts.

We should also look at the Sag Harbor School and the Bridgehampton School districts to see how they have already combined resources of personnel to save money for their taxpayers. At the same time we think that these small changes will make a difference, it is those paid the biggest bucks that we will need to carefully consider.

We also have to realize that this is a time of dire straights. The rest of the country is feeling the heat from the foreclosure, falls off the corporate ladder and big buck bailouts. We are all facing tough decisions, and many working people are seeing their wages stagnate, if not vanish altogether while their out of pocket insurance premiums rise along with property and school taxes. Should the school system, in fact, remain the only safe haven with full benefits and job security for all in this economic climate? It’s a difficult conundrum, but one which may see both sides galvanizes if school budgets continue to rise as taxpayers income dwindles.

Currently, we see that a sense of community may be disappearing here as seasonal residents among us become all too familiar faces – that is not to say that we don’t like the arrival of our favorite comers and goers but we are indeed seeing a dilution of our community as more and more new faces arrive. We are reluctant to see the schools become one, however some of the administration and management of those schools could easily be shared by a single administrator. It makes sense to think seriously about consolidation now and spare districts the wrath of the irate resident who perceives, whether correctly or not, that there is a good deal of fat to be trimmed off the school budget.

As we learned from the superintendent of the Sag Harbor School District, consolidation is not a new trend upstate, where many schools located about as far apart from one another as Sag Harbor is to many neighboring districts, share one superintendent. When we weigh the downfalls against the gains – we are leaning towards the gains.

We believe a school truly helps define a community. We certainly think, however, that some of our schools could be combined in a number of ways so that all benefit from a cost reduction. 

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