GUFS Budget

To the Editor:

I support the 2012-2013 budget prepared by the Board of the Garrison Union Free School District. I encourage you to vote to approve the budget, also.

The 2012-2013 budget requires a tax levy increase of 2.23 percent. For a house assessed at a value of $300,000 in Philipstown, this means that annual school taxes will be $120 higher for 2012-2013 – increasing from $5,565 to $5,685.

For a house assessed at a value of $300,000 in Putnam Valley, annual school taxes will be $60 higher for 2012-2013 – increasing from $2,691 to $2,751.

This minimal increase nets great benefits for the children educated by the Garrison School. The 2012-2013 budget includes funds for the Summer Academy, a two-week enrichment program. The budget also includes funding for a full-time school librarian. Currently, the school employs a half-time librarian. It also supports small class sizes, individualized learning experiences, accelerated science for middle school students, and foreign language instruction for grades 3-8.

The Garrison School’s Board of Education administers the school’s budget and reserves responsibly. The Garrison School District has the lowest full value tax rate in 2011-2012 among all school districts in the five-county region covering Putnam, Westchester, Rockland, Orange and Dutchess counties.

Fellow parent Joe Regele wrote in a letter published in the April 4 edition of the Putnam County News & Recorder that it’s egregious to increase the budget when enrollment has decreased from 290 students five years ago – in 2007 – to the current enrollment of 236. What Mr. Regele did not mention is that the Garrison School currently has 327 elementary, middle and high school students. It pays tuition of $12,406 per student to the Haldane Central School District for 70 Garrison high school students. And, the Garrison School pays tuition of $11,200 per student to the Highland Falls/Ft. Montgomery Central School District for 21 Garrison high school students.

The 2012-2013 Garrison School budget contains funds to cover an increase of $48,641 in tuition costs for our high school students.

Mr. Regele also did not mention that we are living in a different economic period from that of 2007. The cost of doing business and the cost of living have increased since 2007. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the cost of fuel oil #2 was $2.505 per gallon in March 2007, and was $3.909 per gallon in March 2012. The cost of a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline was $2.592 in March 2007, and $3.868 in March 2012. The cost of electricity in the New York, New Jersey, Connecticut area was $0.169 per KWH in March 2007, and $0.186 per KWH in March 2012.

The Garrison School is unique. It is one of 304 schools recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a Blue Ribbon School in 2010. The people who work with our children at the Garrison School care deeply about igniting the love of learning in each child. Truly, when you walk in the doors of the school, you feel love.

This excellent gem of a school increases the value of our property. People have bought and will continue to buy homes within the Garrison School District because of the school.

I did. I chose to buy a home with the Garrison School District to get access to the finest public education I could find for my children. This community will attract other parents like me if we provide adequate financial resources to maintain the excellence of the Garrison School.

Again, this minimal tax increase provides important educational opportunities for our children. Please vote on Tuesday, May 15 in support the 2012-2013 Garrison School budget.

Jill Corson Lake
Putnam Valley

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