"A government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have"
Thomas Jefferson

Monday, May 5, 2008

Go To School On This Lesson

The Carthage Central School budget appears to be headed for defeat after local town and village officials have raised concerns about the spending increases. The local officials raised their concerns in a letter sent to the School Superintendent Carl Militello and School Board President John Peck a couple of weeks ago and since then there has been claims made and counterclaims raised and a proposed reduction.

The School Superintendent proposed and the Board approved a 9.8% increase in the school tax levy after several years of increasing the levy and several rounds of reassessing for the local property tax payers, making the burden on property tax payers unbearable enough to show signs of budget defeat at the polls.

The letter thus far has resulted in a lot of media attention and awareness but also a private meeting between the school officials and the lawmakers, with school officials subsequently proposing to reduce the levy by $172,000.

There are two points really worth noting. First, if it takes these types of actions to produce reductions in a budget, then the school board needs to be shown the door for passing a budget without asking tough questions. Secondly, for elected town and village officials to get involved in reviewing a school budget looking for reductions is a dangerous precedent setting practice and yet another reason the school board is inept in handling the finances of the district.

"We questioned some of their spending and some budget items, and they'll come back to us with what they decided," Mr. Burto said in an article in the Watertown Daily Times. It should not take elected officials from other taxing entities to step up and question spending, that is not their role, it is the role of the school board and a responsible administration.

The public should be calling the leadership of the school administration into question in this situation as well. Many, faculty included, have described the school superintendent’s leadership style as autocratic, which seldom fosters a productive workplace.

The School Superintendent is irresponsible to claim he cut 21 positions from the school budget, when it is reported from that meeting it was only 4 and the balance of the positions were only requested positions that were not filled.

The Superintendent and school board have also depleted the fund balance. Total fund balance in the 2006-07 school year was $7,209,942 and the school district is projecting only $209,942 by 2009-10 budget year, which means they have spent $7 million dollars in reserve funds since the 2006-07 budget year along with a $4.2 increase in state aid this year.

This issue started with the local official's questioning contradictions in statements by school officials regarding the justification of the increase and cost to taxpayers of new construction occurring at the school in recent years.

This situation bears remembering when voters step in to voting booths to elect school board members. A lesson that a community needs to elect people to school boards that possess some financial background and ability to work with budgets as well as a desire to see kids educated properly.

This is an expensive lesson the Carthage area is learning, all communities should go to school on this lesson.

Carthage voters should reject this budget.


Anonymous said...

You should mail that statement to every household in the Carthage School District. I'll even help pay for labels and postage. Seriously!

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't blame it all on the Carthage district, I also put the blame with our local government and their reassessments. My home was reassessed for more than it is worth and there is no way anyone would pay what the assessor says it is worth. In turn, my school taxes will be higher and I am on a fixed income. The reassessments are just as much a problem as the school budget.

Anonymous said...


Do you own property in the Carthage School District? If you do, your input and opinion might be of value. If you do not, why should anyone give a horse's patooty what you think?

I for one do own property in the school district, and I will be voting yes on the budget along with plenty of people who think that maybe the people elected to run local villages should stick to their knitting and let the school board do its job. After all, the school budget is the most democratic piece of our government, and education is the most valuable service our community provides to its residents.

I'm actually disappointed that the school hasn't hired the additional people necessary to accomplish its mission.

Politicaliv.com said...

So to answer your question.

YES,I have a house in the district.


Anonymous said...

Just be there on the 13th.I will make it clear to all what the focus should be on.We are at War and things are going to get worse.Dont pay your taxes stand up with a lawyer they are like tooth brushes we should all use one .

Anonymous said...

To anonymous #3,

You may be the only taxpayer voting yes for this budget. Along with a bunch of students that Carl pulls out of class. "the school budget is the most democratic piece of our goverment" Are you for real???? The people can vote NO and they can still spend up to $500,000 more then the budget you are voting for. Where is that democratic???
I am glad the local villages and towns got involved. They are doing what the school board should have done. They should have got some balls and done what was right for the people that elected them. Now I hope the people elect 3 new members. I am wondering if you hold one of the 12 $72,000 a year plus administrator jobs. Or if you are a board member that helped spend the $7 million surplus in 3 years. Where are we going to be in 2010- 2011???$2.5 million in the hole to start....

Anonymous said...

I concur with the 1st post. We need to do a mass mailing. The school will be mailing out their B.S. I'll volunteer to help too. Your statement would also make an excellent Letter to the Editor to the WDT, PIV.

Anonymous said...

To Anoynmous #5, this is Anonymous #3

No, I am not in any way employed by the school district. I am self-employed, own commercial property in the district, reside in the district, and am an alum of the district, and as an alum, who was well served by the school, I can tell you that it is failing the vast majority of its students, it failed the vast majority of my peers. It has failed the vast majority of my relatives children, and it will continue to fail unless it is adequately funded, and quite frankly this budget doesn't adequately fund the school, but it is better than a lower compromise budget that may follow.

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