Friday, 08 February 2013 00:00
How does, what looks like such an easy task, turn into choreographing the most intricate dance in history? Welcome to the New York State education district budget development process. Just when we have it down to a science, we get thrown additional curve balls or our lead dancer breaks a toe.
The New Hyde Park-Garden City Park School District has worked closely with the community over the past five years to have a budget process that takes community input regarding the quality of educational program offerings and balances the dance moves with fiscal responsibility to our taxpayers.
We have sharpened each dance step by making sure we look for budget efficiencies whenever possible. We have consolidated transportation runs, shared staff development costs with other districts, and applied for grants, which have been awarded whenever we have met the eligibility requirements. We have refinanced our debt to take advantage of the interest’s rates, and have saved over $1.5 million over the life of the debt service. We have created this wonderful dance piece and still have preserved all our programs and staff.
Now, the state throws another unfunded mandate at us. We have been notified that we must build our technology hardware so that we will be able to have an entire grade level, anywhere from 50 to 80 students, sit at the same time to take the new, New York State Assessments, which will be rolled out in the 2014 –15 school year. This gives us two years to get this in place while fiscally fighting for survival of a well-rounded educational program. This needs to stop! We have complied with the 2 percent tax levy. We have trimmed any extras, little to start with, and have created sound budgets that preserve programs, staff and do not hurt our taxpaying constituents. However, now there is no place left to go. We are supporters of the Common Core Learning Standards and the assessments designed to measure students’ mastery of them.
Therefore, someone needs to keep in mind the principle dancers of this piece, our students. By insisting we spend this money on the computer hardware to take this test (a snapshot in time); we will be sacrificing programs and staff to pay for the extra computers. How about the scheduling of these exams? Why not offer each district a week for each grade to administer the tests, so they can utilize the well equipped computer labs, over the course of the week to give the test to the entire grade. We need to put an end to this.
Please send an e-mail or letter to your representatives to get us the financial support for these “extra mandates;” so that we can use our remaining resources to continue our well-deserved existing programs!