Dear Families of Port Washington,
The Port Washington Schools are in severe danger. We have heard that, in keeping with the New York State Tax Cap, the Board of Education plans to approve a budget that will increase the school budget by only 1.88 percent. This meager amount will result in severe cuts to our schools. Once again Port is faced with sacrificing the education of our children unless we insist on a budget that supports the needs of all students.
Under the state tax cap law, the Board of Education is not obligated to stick to 1.88 percent. However, it looks like they plan to do so unless we, the citizens of Port Washington, tell them to do otherwise. We have the right to vote on a school budget that maintains services, or even adds back last year’s cuts. However, the only way the BOE will agree to put forth a budget that exceeds this increase is if they are confident a super-majority of 60 percent will approve the budget. They have asked to hear from the Port community on this important issue. (Last year, 62 percent of voters approved a budget that included a 2.96 percent tax increase.) In a democracy such as ours, we believe that it is the responsibility of the Board of Education to once again let the voters decide.
The devastating cuts necessitated by the 1.88 percent budget cap will include but are not limited to:
- 4 elementary sections
- 2 middle school teachers
- 4 high school teachers
- 1 elementary art teacher
- 20 sports teams
- 65 club advisors from Weber and Schreiber
- PEP program
- Over $600,000 in school supplies
These significant budget reductions are on top of last year’s cuts in elementary library programs and guidance counselors along with increases in class size throughout the district. In short, the school district is on a path that will lead to a major decrease in the quality of our schools.
Therefore, it is imperative that EVERYONE willing to support a budget over 1.88 percent email the board at BOE@portnet.k12.ny.us or write the BOE directly at 100 Campus Drive, Port Washington, NY 11050. All that you need to say in the email or letter is that you want the Board of Education to put up to vote a budget that includes no cuts in teacher, teams or clubs and that you are willing to have your school taxes increase by more than 1.88 percent.
It is also crucial that parents attend one of the next Board of Education meetings on Tuesday, Feb. 28 and Tuesday March 6 at 8 p.m. at the Auditorium. Please do your best to come and express your support for our schools. There’s power in numbers.
We must come together and be heard if we want to maintain the quality education children receive throughout Port Washington Schools. It not only benefits them, it also greatly serves our community at large. As we all know, the quality of the local education system directly correlates to the values of our homes.
We hope you will share in our mission to help our kids THRIVE and not just survive!
Dawn Berkowitz-Ader, Bill Keller, Rina Smith and Lynn Steinberg
The opinions in this post are soley those of the authors, who are residents of Port Washington.