Friday, 01 April 2011 00:00
As the Mineola school budget vote nears, district residents have a unique opportunity to create a fiscally leaner, more competitive school system. Parents and families with children in school are traditionally seen as those who vote for a budget.
Conventional wisdom holds that older community members and those without children in public school are automatically inclined to vote “no.” It is a mistake to stereotype the district’s non-parents as an anti-budget, anti-school block, and it is to that important segment of our community that I am writing.
Here are four reasons why non-parents must vote “yes” on the 2011-2012 Mineola schools budget:
First, voting “yes” shows approval for the district administration’s effort to create a conservative, responsible budget that represents a modest 2.44 percent tax increase, among the lowest in our area. Current projections are at 6.19 percent for East Williston, between 4.5 percent and 4.77 percent for Herricks and a rollover budget starting at 5.59 percent for Manhasset.
Second, voting “yes” allows Mineola the flexibility to use its reserve fund to invest in a cost saving consolidation plan. The reserve fund will pay for the building enhancements to Hampton Street. While some suggest using the reserve to lower the 2011-2012 tax increase, doing so provides a false sense of relief because it does nothing to protect the district from future expenses. Using the reserve fund to accomplish an effective consolidation is an investment in efficiencies of staffing and building maintenance that actually lead to ongoing tax savings as year-to-year liabilities increase and state and federal support decrease.
Thirdly, voting “yes” means that Mineola will make use of the consolidation planning done before the budget crisis struck. These existing plans recognize today’s tough fiscal realities and save money in the long term while preserving and enhancing the educational program. Few, if any, of the surrounding districts are in such an enviable position.
Finally, voting “yes” will create a district where all extra-curricular and athletic programs remain intact while allowing for curricular enhancements that will make Mineola students more competitive in their college applications and as future members of the work force.
I urge all members of the Mineola community to vote “yes” on the 2011-2012 school budget, especially those whom some would write off as automatic “no” voters. We have the responsibility to pass a conservative 2.44 percent budget that invests money today for a future return.
The 2011-2012 Mineola budget is designed to take advantage of a plan in which staffing, building maintenance and other items lead to an $8 million in savings over the next three years alone, according to the Mineola District Finance Committee. Projected savings over the long term are far greater because Mineola will be a fiscally leaner, more competitive district.
Whether or not you have children enrolled in a Mineola school, a successful, highly competitive school district means that more people will view our community as an attractive place to live.