With the blooming of the forsythias comes the annual event called the school budget and school board vote. Each year voters are presented with the chance to say “yea” or “nay” to the school district budget number put on the table by the school board for the following school year. Take this number and subtract the amount of state aid and other revenues, which are never known for sure, and the ending result is the amount of money that we taxpayers must pick up and pay through our property taxes.
If the budget doesn’t pass, the school board always comes back for another bite at the apple, even if local taxpayers have nothing more to give. This year, when a separate capital expenditure budget wasn’t approved, the school board took out its pencils and made a few changes and put it up again for another vote. Keep putting it up for a vote until it passes…because you know if you vote against the budget it only means you hate kids.
This year’s Rondout Valley Central School Budget is $59,062,343. It’s hard to say how this compares to prior years because the district doesn’t put the information on its website www.rondout.k12.ny.us/ in an easy place for people to see. But that’s part and parcel for the way our school district’s administration operates.
Along with the budget vote is the annual vote to put people on the board of education itself. Unlike elections for other offices, the candidates never really make an effort to campaign or let voters know what they stand for, so most voters have no idea who they’re voting for or what their qualifications are.
It’s time for a little more transparency from our school board and for the candidates who want our votes. Property owners in small districts like ours that don’t have a large tax base pay a lot more in school taxes that in other richer parts of the state. Every child deserves a good education, unfortunately property owners in some places like ours have to pay a lot more for a lot less. It’s time to re-think the way education is paid for and the way small districts are managed.
Polls are open from 6am to 9pm at the high school gymnasium. This year’s candidates are Kent Anderson (incumbent), James Ayers (incumbent), Imre Beke, Jr., Pamela Longley and Annette Ludwig, Vote for up to three or none of the above.