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The Oyster Bay - East Norwich Board of Education will review the proposed 2009-2010 school budget as outlined in the following calendar. These meetings are designed to enable residents to better understand and participate in the budget development process.

Community members are most welcome and encouraged to attend these open meetings.

The most important date on the calendar is the Public Budget Forum on Saturday Feb. 7 where the administration will roll out a draft budget. The major thrust of this meeting and subsequent meetings is community input. People are encouraged to come and question and make their concerns known early in the process. What people need to know is that the draft budget being presented on Feb. 7 is just that, a draft. From Feb. 7 until the budget adoption on April 1 the budget will be molded and worked on until a fair and fiscally responsible proposed budget can be presented to the community.

The budget conversation began at the board meetings in December and continues through January. Every meeting listed on the budget calendar will be primarily focused to that end and the district's goal is to turn out as many people on both sides of the issues as possible.

There are things to consider as budget cuts are discussed including that a good school system will attract buyers to homes in a community. In Dr. Harrington's tenure in Oyster Bay, the district has gone from schools "in need of improvement" to registering some of the highest test scores on Long Island and being used as model schools for Columbia University's Teachers College. OB-EN graduating seniors are being considered and accepted to more and more high end and Ivy League colleges and universities.

A quality program does have a price tag. However, last year's budget that was approved by the voters was lower than the contingency budget that the state would have allowed had the vote gone down.

The challenge gets even more difficult this year as the economy is in a recession. To that end, Dr. Harrington's staff will be rolling out a budget in February with close to a million dollars cut out. These cuts will affect programs. Tough times require tough decisions. That is why it is more important than ever for community members to come out to these meetings and let their voices be heard on what should and should not be cut from the budget as it is closely inspected by the board, and local residents.

The first meeting will be held on Saturday, Feb. 7 starting at 9 a.m. in the Oyster Bay High School library. Last year the meeting continued into the early afternoon. It is a public budget forum that will provide a complete budget overview. The public will receive a budget document and will be able to ask questions and receive answers from the board of education members as they review the information. If a question needs some research to answer, it will be answered at the next board meeting, on Feb. 24.

During the budget hearings, the proposed budget document will be adjusted for each succeeding meeting to reflect the progression of the work.

The second meeting will be held Tuesday, Feb. 24 at 8 p.m. at the Board of Education Budget Workshop #1.

On Tuesday, March 3 at 8 p.m. the meeting for Budget Workshop #2 will be held at the Vernon School.

Tuesday, March 17 at 8 p.m., back in the OBHS library, Budget Workshop #3 will take place.

On Tuesday, April 7 at 8 p.m. the board will vote on the adoption of the finalized budget. [This date is mandatory to allow sufficient time to put out public notices for the budget vote on Tuesday, May 19.]

On Tuesday, May 5 at 8 p.m. in the OBHS library, the board will discuss the budget and answer questions from the public.

A budget document will be mailed out to voters so that they may study the information. In the past board members have appeared at local organizations such as at Rotary and the Oyster Bay Civic Association to explain the budget, and to answer questions.

Tuesday, May 19 is the date of the NYS School boards budget and election vote. The OB-EN school district will be open for voting from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. The board found that the turnout is so light between 9 and 10 p.m. that it doesn't pay to keep everyone working the extra hour.

Since that is a change, it is important to note since many people arrive at the last minute to watch the votes being tallied and they need to be aware of the time change.

There are two seats up for election, Judy Wasilchuk and Dolores Greico will have time to decide if they will run for the board again. Seats are chosen at large, so if there are more than two running, only the biggest vote getters win seats. Terms are for four years.

To resister to vote please call the office of the District Clerk Margaret Nolan at 624-6507, as soon as possible.


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