Editorial: Huntington School District Voters Should Turn Out Tuesday and Vote YES!
On Tuesday, May 20, 2014, voters across Long Island will have the opportunity to voice their opinion about the school district budget in their local community.
It is more than likely that the budget in the Huntington School District will pass with flying colors but nothing should be taken for granted.
In terms of numbers and process with this year’s budget, there is not much more that the voters could ask for. The budget is fiscally sound and educationally responsible. The emphasis in spending was placed on what goes on inside the classrooms. Cuts came from serious concessions from the teachers and from top levels of administration.
The budget increase is below the tax cap which means it will require a simple majority vote to pass. Districts that pierce the cap need to pass their budgets with a super majority which requires 60% approval. HUFSD managed to do this with very little pain and lots of gains. This is quite impressive with the current state of things.
If the budget passes, full day kindergarten will return. This is a positive thing for any community on several levels. Besides the obvious benefits to future Kindergartners, it creates jobs, and has a positive effect on property values. If this budget fails, it is inevitable that full day Kindergarten will be the first thing on the chopping block.
The teachers of the district gave a lot for the greater good. A big turnout with a positive result would be a good way for the community to acknowledge that that they appreciate the sacrifice. The union agreed to a salary freeze as well as a step freeze for the 2014/2015 school year. We often hear about unions agreeing to a salary freeze but step freezes are far less common. They have also given back partial step increases for future years. In speaking to several union members, the consensus was this was best for the kids, the community and their colleagues who will keep jobs.
Addition cuts were made by trimming down administration. Assistant Superintendents went from 3 to 2 due to retirements that will be replaced with middle level administration.
At this paper we are often critical of public entities that are less than transparent and illogical with the handling of public money. In Huntington School District the process was extremely transparent and the money was put where it will directly benefit students. There were many public meetings where voters were able to get information and the budget details are readily available. This is not always the case with governments.
Since there is an uncontested school board candidate election, it is unknown how much voter turnout will be affected.
We believe that the school district officials listened to the people and put forth a very responsible budget. The teachers did their part. Now it’s up to the community to do their part on Tuesday.
Full disclosure: Both editors of this newspaper reside in the Huntington School District. One has children in the schools, the other has older children that have graduated from Huntington Schools.