Editor, The Spotlight:
With all due respect to Dr. Douglas and voters who supported the school budget, there were really no winners on May 15th. While I fully support true “quality education,” I voted no.
Can we really view the cutting of $3.3 million in programming and services, including elimination of 22 teachers, using $1.75 million of reserve funding and increasing the tax levy by 4 % as a success to be proud of? We need to do better. We will never get the structural change we need in funding our education system if we blindly continue to approve annual tax increases without ever pushing the Governor and legislature for more creative solutions.
The real crux of the problem is that Bethlehem is receiving 4 million less in state aid this year, and property owners—regardless of their income—are being forced to pick up the bill. As a State, we need to change the entire programmatic and funding structure for our education system; otherwise, we are only pitting retired state worker against newly-hired teachers against local store owners trying to maintain their businesses here in our town. I do not want to leave this area, but if it comes down to paying for less and less services, while our mortgages continue to increase by 4 or 5 or 6% a year, there will be no winners in Bethlehem or anywhere else in the State. I suggest everyone check out this site and seriously think about what we really need to do: http://www.nyspropertytaxreform.org.