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Letter: Not All Austerities Are Created Equal

Here is something that I don’t think many people realize.  If we should go to an austerity budget this year, it will look very different from the austerity that we had in 2004.  Here are some facts to consider:

- In 2004 the austerity budget was a 3.78 percent budget increase from the year before.  With the exception of being restricted in the purchase of new equipment, the district operated almost as usual.  Some program cuts were made, but we did not have to totally reshape the educational landscape of Manhasset schools.

- This year, austerity would mean a mandatory $4.6 million cut to the budget.  Since much of the budget is mandated, this would translate to major cuts to the educational and extra-curricular program.  The impact to Manhasset’s educational offering would be significant.

- Once you lose programs, they are never added back.  In 2004, we lost the elementary foreign language program, bus transportation for early morning activities, third grade strings (a musical instruction program), and MECA (a high school humanities program). We never got them back.

- Our tax cap baseline will start at the austerity amount. Essentially, we will be putting the district further in the hole for future budgets. Our tax cap limit will have to start AFTER we have cut the $4.6 million.  To come back from a hit like that will take years.

I urge everyone to vote “Yes” for this budget.  If you are inclined to vote no, I ask you; how informed is your vote?  All the school board meetings are empty. Have you really researched your position? A no vote is a knee jerk reaction to rising taxes and is irresponsible.  I agree with Mr. McGiveny’s letter of May 10: you are not only shooting yourself in the foot, you are shooting me in the foot as well.   Please vote “Yes” on May 21.

Oriana Cypress