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Letter: Responding to David Whitting

David J. Whitting wrote to the Record Pilot (Aug. 5 issue) to protest the email from the superintendent of the North Shore School District inquiring of the community whether individuals might be willing and able to contribute to a capital campaign for the schools. Mr. Whitting asks why, instead of contemplating a fund-raising campaign, the district cannot simply cut costs and live within its means.

Since Dr. Melnick became superintendent, the administration and board of the district have been in the forefront of every effort to reduce costs, including a lead role in the county and state studies of how to reduce property taxes. We participate in every available consortium to reduce the cost of goods and services. We have made every effort to plan ahead, and husband our resources, within the legal means available to us.

But the difficulty of obtaining adequate funding for our schools is an increasing problem for us all. Twenty years ago in 1990-91, the district received $3,507,000 from the state and federal government, which equaled 11.6 percent of total operating costs. Today, when the school population has doubled and costs for mandated expenses have mushroomed, we receive only $3,808,440 or 4.4 percent of our operating costs. As you can see, the level of support from the state and federal government continues to rapidly decline despite increased enrollment and expensive state and federal mandates.

Over the past 20 years, in short, the State has simply shifted the tax burden from Albany to local homeowners. New York State finances are in crisis, and there is no prospect that our dysfunctional legislature will either solve this crisis or find a way responsibly to fund our schools.

We are left, therefore, on our own. The board is wholly committed to maintaining the depth, breadth, and quality of programs that make North Shore a very highly performing district. We aim to improve, not to sell our kids short.

Consequently we are exploring every possible avenue of funding, including voluntary private giving. As trustees of our children’s future, we believe it would be irresponsible not to pursue every possible avenue available to keep our schools strong and our taxes as low as we can make them.

The North Shore Board of Education