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Letter: What We Will Lose

By the end of the Glen Cove Board of Education meeting last week, I felt the heaviness of the realities we are facing as a school district here in Glen Cove, as well as anger. The anger comes from a recent reminder of how many people in this town do not vote in school budget and board trustee elections. I had just sat through a meeting filled with high school students who came to plead the saving of two high school guidance counselors’ positions that are currently on the list of cuts. I heard mothers pleading for their artist children who are facing the reality of an education that will no longer engage their strengths. I looked at a budget “cut list” that already includes 11 teachers, and threatens to double if this budget does not pass. We are dealing with the reality that all sports below the High School Varsity level, along with all field trips, will be recommended for elimination from our schools if this bare bones budget does not pass.

There are more than 26,000 residents in Glen Cove (population from the 2000 census data). On average over the last 10 votes, only 2192 voted in a school budget vote. During this same window, we have never broken a 3200 show of voters. What does that say about our community? Glen Cove is filled with passionate people who care about very important things… including our children.  So where are we when it’s time to vote for the budget that puts teachers in our children’s classrooms? Of the 3698 parents or legal guardians in the Glen Cove Public School Community, only 1709 are registered to vote. Of these 1709 voters, how many do you think actually made it to the polls?  

The pattern is clear when you take a look at vote records. In the year 2002, 2400 people came out to vote, and the budget passed with 59 percent of the votes.  So the next year, 1000 fewer voters came out, and the budget passed with 57 percent of the votes. The next year, in 2004, the budget lost at 39 percent of the votes. When we think things are going along just fine we tend to feel less vital to the success of the issue at stake. How many of us have said in our minds, “It’s just me, I’m juggling so much today, what’s one vote?” Well, in 2005, the only year out of the last 10 votes that drew 3000 votes, the budget was defeated by only 72 voters!!! How many of us were kicking ourselves for not pushing just a little harder to get our school community registered and out there! It’s time to be our neighbors’ keeper. We need to care, and ask, and help. We need to get people to the polls. I believe this town cares about its children and will rise to put Education first. Let’s do this Glen Cove!

Donna Brady