With inflation, rising fuel costs and continued supply-chain disruptions, these are trying times for all of us. The COVID pandemic is not yet done wreaking havoc and the future is filled with uncertainty.
But this is no time to take out our collective frustrations on the school budget — the only budget required by law to be subject to an up/down vote by taxpayers.
The budget proposed by Riverhead school officials is fiscally conservative — requiring only a 1% tax levy increase after two years of no tax levy increase at all. It will mean a tax increase of $62 for the year on a home with a market value of $400,000 — $93 for the year on a home with a $600,000 market value.
At the same time, the district’s proposed spending plan satisfies the educational and social needs of our children, thanks in part to long-overdue increases in state education aid. This budget deserves the community’s support and we urge you to vote “yes” on Tuesday.
One of the many lessons offered by 2020 is the toll of a failed school budget — the toll on students, families and the community at large. Make no mistake: curtailed academic offerings, suspended athletic programs, and eliminated extracurricular activities all hurt our students. Some saw their only opportunity for a college scholarship destroyed with the suspension of athletics and other extracurriculars.
The pandemic made the consequences of a failed budget even worse than they would have otherwise been, as students and teachers struggled to adapt to remote learning and other safety measures that made social interaction and education difficult at best. It was a major setback for our youth. The struggles continue — and continue to evolve — in the protracted recovery period we’re experiencing.
A failed budget now would be a major setback for our youth and for the future of our community as a vibrant, successful community. We need to prepare our youth to be ready to handle the challenges the future holds. This is no time to turn our backs on that goal.
The second proposition on the ballot this year is authorization to spend up to $56,000 in cafeteria capital reserve funds to purchase needed equipment in three of our school buildings. The cafeteria capital reserve, created in 2018, is funded from surplus money generated by the cafeteria program and not taxpayer dollars. Expenditure of cafeteria capital reserve funds has no impact on the tax levy. A “yes” vote here is truly a no-brainer.
Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly stated that the ballot proposition authorizing the use of the cafeteria capital reserve fund for cafeteria projects was for not more than $66,000. The amount is actually not more than $56,000.
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