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Editorial: You Get What You Pay For

At the Jan. 12 budget chat of the Oyster Bay-East Norwich School District, mention was made that Christopher Van Cott, assistant superintendent for business and grounds talked to students in the Economics class about school taxes.

We thought that was a great idea. The school is teaching other classes about how the school tax system works.

Many pages of this newspaper have been devoted to doing just that same thing. The school taxes are probably the only time residents get to look close up and personal at a budget document for an entity as large as the school district.

Over the years the OB-EN budget document has evolved to the point it is at now. It is a line by line budget – the Town of Oyster Bay uses a similar system of line items with descriptions.

But added to that are Fund Balance, Tax Levy, Reserve Funds, Bond Anticipation Notes... words that need some explaining.

There is a lot to learn and the more people who are familiar with the terms the better. Actually the more conversant you become with the system, the better you can understand it.

Now don’t tell us about Bill Gates and the people who jump over the hurdles and don’t get or need a college degree. He put in the needed 10,000 hours of work in computer programming on his own, including working from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. at programming when he was still in high school. Just read Outliers: The Story of Success, by Malcolm Gladwell. It was recommended to us by Town Councilwoman Rebecca Alesia. [Thank you Ms. Alesia.]

In fact it turns out motivated parents are one of the best indicators of success for a student. That is why it really is good to attend school board meetings. You will have a chance to see what happens at the next grade as your student progresses as opposed to daily surprises. You will learn from other parents’ experiences.

We have learned a great deal more about the workings of the schools by attending the meetings. They open up the educational process as it happens in our schools.

Do take a look at obenschools.org and see what your tax money is doing to create great citizens for the future of our country, and take pride in what you are doing by paying those taxes. Who knows where the next, or next, or next President of the United States will come from.

And don’t forget to read. It is the path to enlightenment.                                 

– DFK