Editor, The Spotlight:
I would like to thank the many members of our community who turned out for the Bethlehem Central School District Community Budget Forum on Tuesday, Feb. 28.
About 140 people attended the forum at BCMS, and another 60 online. As a new superintendent in the district, I am truly heartened by this level of community involvement. For anyone who did not attend, the materials, discussion notes and survey results from our online forum are available on the district’s website, www.bethlehemschools.org. There you will also find a number of other resources dedicated to our budget processes past and present, along with a few pages dedicated to understanding the state’s new and complex purported “tax cap.”
I commend them to your attention, as it’s the district’s mission to be as open and transparent throughout this budget process.
No doubt, you have read in The Spotlight that we have a budget gap of more than $4 million, assuming we would be able to raise the amount of taxes for which we would only need a simple majority. The cuts needed to bridge this will unquestionably affect programming and services in the district. Furthermore, if our budget is voted down twice, the new contingency rules will mandate the district to stay at the 2011-2012 tax levy amount. This will require the district to cut $6 million from this budget.
Our task ahead is a difficult one and the choices before the district will affect the education of Bethlehem’s students for years to come. Please be involved in this process. Tell us what you value in the district and what you’d be willing to support with your tax dollars. Join us at the high school on March 7, 21 and 28 as we discuss possible reductions in the district and craft a budget that meets the needs of the students and the expectations of our constituents.
And please, whatever you do, join us at the polls on May 15.
Remember, these are our children, our taxes, our programs and this is our school district. In order to do what is right for our district, we need everyone’s involvement.
Dr. Thomas Douglas
Superintendent of Schools