The last election was an opportunity for the public to voice their opinion. Long ignored and maybe somewhat apathetic themselves, the majority of Port Washington residents came out in droves to make their statement to the board of education. Their voice was heard loud and clear; not only were three public referendums defeated, but the incumbent board members were also ushered out of office. Now the public will again be asked to come out and vote to voice their approval or rejection of our School Operating Budget for the next fiscal year. Much like last year, the school budget was defeated on the first ballot. However, this year is nothing like last year.
Last year the board of education put up the same budget that the voters had previously rejected. This year the board of education and the school district may very well have gotten the message due to that hard work and convictions of many of you. This time, the School Operating Budget has been sharply reduced. Over $1 million was shaved from the initial budget, and the tax rate increase has been reduced to only 2.6 percent as opposed to the original increase of 4.4 percent that was defeated. This is one of the lowest increases in Nassau County. No one can argue my vocal opposition to the prior board policies, the prior budget proposal included; but I am urging all of my supporters to come out and vote yes on this revised budget on June 20. Here is my reasoning.
For the great majority of us out there, we proved our point in the last election. Yes, there was a certain sense of arrogance displayed by the school district and the prior board in its dealings with the public. Certainly no one bore the brunt of that arrogance any more than I. But we are not there, we are here. Here we have a new board, which has exerted its influence toward a new direction. I am very satisfied with the efforts of Dr. Inserra to review this prior budget and come up with a second proposal, which appears to be more reasonable and responsive to the community's mandate. I think the superintendent did a great job under a difficult circumstance, making significant changes and identifying budgetary areas that might have been excessive.
I am sure there are some who may believe that the proposed budget cuts are not enough. However, I believe the school district has begun to make a sincere effort to analyze its public spending with an eye toward public responsibility. Change does not happen overnight, but it is clearly beginning. This budget might not be perfect, but it certainly sends a signal for a new direction. That direction now includes the voices of the many voters whom may have previously thought of themselves as being alienated from the process. With all that said, I ask everyone to continue to support our effort for reform. To keep that effort credible we have to both encourage these positive developments while simultaneously, and within reason, continuing to support our civic responsibility toward public education and our children. Therefore, I ask everyone to come out and support this budget and support the efforts of your new board of education.