It would have been nice if during the past couple of months the West Islip Board Of Education had trusted the taxpayers enough to have provided us with some version of the line by line 2011-12 school budget proposal they only released to the Public on May 3rd. With access to that level of detail the taxpayers of the town would have been able to provide much more informed suggestions at the so called "workshops" that were held.
Unfortunately that was not the case and the district chose to keep what they were doing mostly secret. By controlling the information released to the public they could maintain control of the message and therefore spin it to make it sound like the 7 percent plus tax increase we will be saddled with was the best they could do. After all, information is power and the more information they released to the public the less power they would have.
The whole process would have been much better served for everyone if the BOE had gone over the budget line by line with the community, gathering input and asking for suggestions along the way. Why not? We pay the bills don’t we? Shouldn’t we know where they want to spend every penny? This is our money we are talking about and our kid’s education and I will not surrender control of that to anyone. Especially to a BOE that wants to spoon feed me information and keep me in the dark about much of what is going on because they think I may not understand or be sympathetic to their process.
It's kind of hard for people to make informed suggestions when they do not have the details and can only rely on what the BOE wants to tell them. Particularly when the details are released after the budget has been presented.
Then I get the Lion's Pride in my mail where again I am told by the BOE that we have a revenue problem and not a spending problem. I quote, "...the lack of revenue is driving the impact on the tax rate." Huh? I say we have a revenue problem because of our spending problem. If we cut spending our existing revenue will cover it. It is what we have to do. Just like at home.
Then they fail to do the math in their "courtesy information" section to tell me that on my $45,000 average assessed house my taxes are going to go up by over $500 a year. Over $500 more a year I have to deny to my family to continue to pay for the benefits, retirements and raises of school district employees. Can you see why I am mad? My family will suffer financially to pay for the financial well being of others.
We need to vote this budget down because there are simply too many unanswered questions about where the tax money is going and we simply cannot afford it.