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letter:To the Sewanhaka Central High School District Board:

I was quite frankly shocked and annoyed as I read the Sewanhaka Central High School Budget as presented for 2009-2010. I had heard from several concerned parties that this budget called for the elimination of the “late bus program” The late bus program allows many children that participate in after school activities to do so by providing a safe and secure way to return home from school. As a point of reference, the district has in the past provided this service to all children in the district regardless of whether they attend public or private school up to a certain distance. Of course this service is not free for those that attend private schools. It is paid by the tax dollars that are collected each and every year. Those families that send their children to private school outside the district have been able to take some consolation from the fact that while they are required to pay taxes that support a public school system they do not use, they at least enjoyed bus service to and from their school.

Perhaps one of the most disturbing things about this was the decision to implement these cuts with little regard to those whom it will affect the most. I am sure that the required notice was given. Yet because of the impact on so many students I would have thought that a more widely disseminated memo detailing the cuts would have been made available. At the very least, a word of warning might have been given to the various high schools that have depended on the late buses in the past. I do not believe any such notice was given. I am disappointed by your actions and I question your priorities.

After discussing the issue at the school board meeting I have come to understand that the cost of providing the late bus program was less than $150,000. Given an annual budget of $150,000,000 the amount of the late bus program amounts to less than 1/10 of 1 percent. It seems to me that it would be a grave error in judgment to disrupt the lives of so many kids that depend on the late bus for such a relativety small sum.

While you would have us believe that we can’t afford the late bus a close look at the proposed budget reveals the following:

$2,322,034 to be allocated to Interscholastic Athletics

$ 695,000 to be allocated for salaries of the Psychological Services Department

$ 801,850 to be allocated for Co-curricular Activities

$ 592,000 to be allocated to salaries for certified Social Workers

$ 603,460 to be allocated to salaries for the Chairpersons of the Library and Audio Visual Department

$ 556,158 to be allocated to salaries of the Chairpersons of the Guidance Department

$ 129,838 to be allocated to salaries to teach “gifted children”

$ 377,596 to be allocated to teaching assistants for the writing lab

$ 239,639 to be allocated to increases for salaries of supervisors of regular school (a 10 percent increase over 2008-2009)

$ 401,423 to be allocated to salaries of the Chief School Administration (a 10 percent increase (over 2008-2009)

$ 245,632 to be allocated to increases in salaries of Security personnel under buildings and grounds

This information can be found by looking at the proposed 2009-2010 budget on the Sewanhaka Central High School website.

How can you justify these expenses in light of your actions regarding the late bus?

In many cases children will be forced to end their participation in after school activities. These children do not have the option of walking home. The attempt to control costs has squarely fallen on those who save the district millions of dollars each year by sending their children to schools outside the district. This does not seem fair and is grossly prejudicial against those families.

At the school board meeting held on June 23rd it was quite apparent that as more and more people became aware of the situation regarding the late buses, opposition to your action has become stronger and stronger. Please resolve this issue in the interests of the children and please do so in an expeditious manner. I realize that due to the fact the budget has been voted on and passed, changes to it may be difficult, but given the small amount of money relative to the entire budget, and for that matter relative to the transportation budget, I am sure it is within your power to approve the necessary funds for continuation of this important program.

Jim Lowe