NY’s school budget voting process is an abomination of the democratic process

To the Editor:

Once again, our public schools are planning to use the palatial school auditoriums they’ve built with our tax dollars to conduct a massive, region-wide pep rally. And why would they not?

They were very successful last year in getting the state to foot a larger portion of their bill than it had previously been ready, willing, and able to. I say successful but success from the perspective of an already overpaid public school administrator is a disaster to anyone with a broader point of view.

Last year, the kick-off rally was held at Columbia High School; this year it’s Colonie Central. Just as last year, they are pleading poverty to attendees, engaging in class warfare and convincing them to vote to spend more of other taxpayers’ money.

Last year, there were representatives from dozens of local school districts in attendance and they were told that the state was not cutting them their fair share of the fiscal pie. Of course, they never really specified which schools were being deprived. They want every school district to believe theirs is on that list.

State government has created a Gap Elimination Adjustment to try to bring state aid in line with fiscal realities but this is not sitting well with school administrators who are not happy with their allowances. It seems they don’t want any kind of merit or needs-based fiscal considerations affecting their ability to retire as millionaires.  

A report released on Oct. 7, 2013 by the Empire Center stated that the highest paid public school administrator in the state earns over $511,000 per year. Forty-nine others earn over $262,000 per year. Locally, the superintendents of East Greenbush, North Colonie, Niskayuna, and Shenendehowa schools earn upwards of $192,000 per year. They and many others earn more than Governor Andrew Cuomo who has instituted a 5-percent pay cut on himself.

The last thing they want is the one thing I have always harped on as the natural equalizer and that’s the freedom of choice. Any “constitutional right” such as education and health care that does not include choice is doomed to failure — but I’m getting off point here.

With school choice off the table under our current state and federal administrations, we have to try to deal with the immediate challenge of reducing spending, which brings me to our budget voting process.

Our public school budget voting process here in New York is an abomination of the democratic process. It's reminiscent of socialism. We need to change the way we vote on school budgets

Instead of voting “yes” or “no” on the budget they want, we should vote for one of two spending levels. If one represents a 2-percent increase from the previous year, it must go up against a budget with a 2-percent decrease. This would more accurately and fairly reflect the financial means of the community they serve. 

How do you think voters would react if in the general elections we were given one political candidate to vote “yes” or “no” for? To top that off, how would you like it if the majority voted “no” but that candidate got imposed on us anyway?

Would you tolerate that? Would you vote with your feet? 

Welcome to Emarika, Comrade.

David Crawmer
East Greenbush

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