Dear Families, Staff, Students and Community Residents:
On Tuesday, Jan. 18th, at 7 p.m. the Board of Education will hold its budget “kickoff” discussions in the Music Room on the main campus. You have likely read comments from other area districts regarding the difficulty of the upcoming budget. All New York State public schools are feeling the impact of the recession and specifically anticipated reductions in state and federal aid. This does not come as a surprise to any of us. For the last two years Haldane has expected serious shortfalls in revenues and anticipated increases in mandated pension and health care contributions next year. We have titled this year’s budget presentation, “The Perfect Storm because of the combination of decreasing revenues, mandated increasing contributions in employee benefits and the impact of the proposed tax levy cap.
I urge all of you to follow the discussions of the Board and better yet why not plan to attend this meeting and future meetings of the board? The superintendent and business manager will provide a historical perspective and the details of the factors contributing to the problems of the upcoming budget. We expect that budget cutbacks will be needed to provide a budget that is acceptable to the community. The Board will provide the superintendent with their assessment of the values that should guide the district in making the hard decisions that lay ahead. We would like to hear from you. I will pose the following question to the Board and to all of our district stakeholders, “If we have to cut programs, staffing or services what values would guide your recommendations?”
Two other major topics for discussion are the follow-up to the athletic fields and updating our policy on Reserve Funds. Despite the challenges that face Haldane and all N.Y. state public schools I remain confident that if we can work together as a school and community that we will find solutions to our budget challenges. Budget discussions will dominate the Board agenda for the next several months. The hard conversations and subsequent decisions will require input from the public. Please attend a board meeting, speak to board members, contact the district office with questions or speak with your representatives such as the PTA, Booster Clubs or class parents.
Tom Friedman, NY Times columnist, quotes Atlanta Mayor, Kasim Reed who is credited with his cities’ great economic turn around in his column of Jan. 2, 2011:
The bottom line is that for the country to do and to be what we have been – there must be a generation tough enough to stick out its chin and take the hit. It is time to begin having the type of mature and honest conversations necessary to deal with the new economic realities.
Unfortunately, time is not on our side. Normally, in order to meet state established time requirements the district will have roughly two months to confront budget decisions. This budget is unlike any other past budget facing Haldane or other public schools in New York State. We look forward to your participation.
Mark Villanti, Ed.D.