Let’s get straight to the point: we hope very much you get out and vote on your school budget Tuesday, May 15.
School budget votes traditionally see terrible voter turnout. Yet school taxes traditionally make up 70 or 80 percent of a homeowner’s property tax bill, one of the top issues with homeowners in the Upstate region.
Perhaps the reason is voters only get a choice to vote “yes” or “no” on the budget. That’s not a great choice for something that can spur so many conflicting emotions and opinions. But if you care even a whit about your community, taxes or kids, it’s no excuse to stay home.
This vote is of importance because it’s the first year school districts have been drafting their budgets under the state property tax cap. Not only will the rate of passage be watched carefully at the Capitol, but schools have again made cuts to their budgets and in some cases these were deeper than what might have been done without the cap. How our schools are run and funded is in a state of flux, and budget votes provide one of the few tangible measures of public opinion. Join in.
Voters will also decide on various propositions to buy buses and the like, as well as elect their representatives on school boards.
With the fever pitch of the conversation about school budgets right now, you’d think people would be clamoring to get on their board of education and effect some change. You’d be wrong.
Seemingly every spring (and much more so this year) we hear from dozens of members of our communities about how the school districts are forcing people out of their homes and destroying the fabric of society. Budget forums usually draw crowds and in some communities run deep into the night as the public questions a proposed budget and the cognitive faculties of administrators and school board members. Tempers have flared, fingers have been pointed and members of communities have turned against one another.