South Huntington Union Free School District: Letter to the Editor
The run up to the general election always seems to bring out political rhetoric aimed at school districts. Each year at this time we endure negative messages from our political leaders attempting to shift focus from what they have or haven’t done for their constituents to blaming school boards for high property taxes.
While it is certainly true that school boards are responsible for raising revenues through property taxes it is also certainly true that school boards have little choice in the matter. Other levels of government have additional sources of revenue but schools are limited to property tax and state aid for the vast majority of their expenses by law. As school board members we spend a good deal of time explaining why schools are a driver of property tax and why it is difficult to reduce property taxes even when expenses are controlled. For many LI districts, even reductions in expenditures will lead to increasing property taxes, particularly in times like these when state aid is declining. Most politicians understand this except when political expediency and opportunity dictate otherwise, and that is the most frustrating part.
School board members are used to being at the bottom of the food chain of elected representatives but that has not mattered to us or to other school board members we know. We’re talking about people who labor for long hours in obscurity for no pay to do the people’s work in the face of attacks frequently coming from the very people who know better and should be supportive. School budgets are developed in public and voted on by the public each year. Over the past several years these budgets have passed almost unanimously across LI. I wonder how many politicians at other levels of government would agree to have their budgets put to a public vote each year. Perhaps we should ask them.
It will be refreshing to someday see a candidate run for local office without going negative on school finance and scapegoating our Board trustees.
The South Huntington School District Board of Education
Jim Kaden, President
Thomas G. Teresky, J.D., Vice President
Nicholas R. Ciappetta, J.D.
Chad A. Lupinacci, J.D.
Edward J. Nitkewicz, J.D.