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Monday, May 17, 2010

On the proposed budget

Comment: Over the past few weeks the words “School Budget Vote” has evoked many different emotions from many different people. It can leave questions in your mind. It can leave you with very strong opinions. And all of this is ok, it is after all a free country in which we have the right to say what we believe. In order to form the best opinion in voting for myself, I did a lot of research and I want to share what I learned from various sources (all public information).

Our school district, Broadalbin-Perth, enjoyed the riches of many years after the two schools, Broadalbin and Perth became one. They received what is called “merger aid”, also known as Consolidation Aid. Merger aid can last up to as long as 15 years and then it disappears. Over the course of time and in years of merger aid, B-P did some awesome things. They created wonderful programs and all of our children reaped the benefits. Well, time has passed and the “merger aid” has faded along with it. We still however have a wonderful school with some fantastic programs. These programs still need to be paid for and unfortunately due to budgetary constraints some of those programs were not able to be saved and we have lost many to the budget process. In the past 2 years, the staffing cuts at our school have left our children unable to gain the knowledge those programs offered. This loss in merger aid along with a cut in aid from the State has left our school in a precarious situation.

There are 6,555 parcels of taxable properties in the Broadalbin-Perth School District. Of that number, an overwhelming 316 parcels have “0” tax liability. They pay nothing. I was amazed to learn that 53%, over half of the parcels in our school district pay less that $1000 in school taxes. Just under 25% actually pay less than $250 in school taxes. There are a few parcels that do pay quite a bit more, I learned that only 2% of that number paid over $5000 in taxes and out of that 2% 10 parcels have paid $365,000. Like I said, this is all public information. You can access your local town for tax assessments and equalization rates. Let’s not forget that it is NYS Office of Real Property Services that determines equalization rates and towns that determines assessments.

A school district is a business. I find it very hard to believe that anyone in business today will not see an increase in operating expenses. We live in an area with a public school. A public school is defined as “an elementary or secondary school that is supported by public funds and providing free education for children of a community or district”. We have lost a lot of state aid this year. That’s not our school’s fault. Our merger money has run out. That’s not our school’s fault. 316 parcels pay nothing and 53% pay less than $1000. That’s not our school’s fault. Why is this all important? We all want what’s best for our children. Regardless if you have children in the district now, at some point your life is and will be directly impacted by children from this district (as long as you live in this district). It is every parent’s hope that their child will be successful from the day they enter school for the first time until the day that they graduate. Successful schools drive successful towns. It all works together. If we lose more programs to budget constraints, we lose, period. It’s time to rally together and vote yes for this years school budget. It’s time to take our angst and our anger to the people who truly deserve to hear it. Let the people in Albany, who have not lost their jobs and are not being held accountable to us, know what you think and how you feel. Don’t punish our students for our hard economic times.

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