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A $9 million budget increase is a lot. For this upcoming year's budget, New York State has increased the school district's aid by $2,500 (not a typo). That small of an increase in state aid is pathetic! That includes the $360,000 that was promised to our taxpayers as reimbursement for the 2001 bond. The district's costs go up and Albany's payments continue to shrink. Once upon a time, it used to be that the state would be contributing $15 million instead of $5 million. The increase in state aid has not even kept up with the rate of inflation.

This budget increase is all about mandated increases. Over the last two years there has been an increase of almost 200 students at the high school. Last year, there was no staff added to the high school. This year, only a few positions have been included in this budget for the high school. Despite what you may have read previously in letters to the editor, the district's central administration did not even suggest the addition of an assistant principal for an elementary school. None of our elementary schools have one.

The federal and state governments should not continue to push these responsibilities down to the most local level. Last year, the state and federal government together contributed 8 cents on each dollar of the budget; I believe this year the district is down to 7 cents on the dollar. There are plenty of other districts where the state contributes a large majority instead of a small minority to the budget. The board has attempted to push to rectify this injustice.

If you have questions, please join us on May 3 for the final budget hearing where there will be ample opportunity to ask questions and get answers. I am extremely proud of the responsiveness that Dr. Gordon's administrative team illustrates every day. I wish every level of government would be as responsive.

The message that the taxpayers are fed up has been received. We don't need any more messages! We have a governor that adds millions to what each district must spend and then adds $2,500 to the district's aid to pay for it. Could you imagine if we could vote on the annual budget for the US government and NY State? How many of those budgets would ever pass? I have heard the local taxpayer and will continue to try and balance the needs of our students with what both our residential and commercial taxpayers have to pay. Please support the efforts of the board by voting yes on May 17 on the budget.

Dean Nardone

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