Budget season seems to be an endless season, as it overlaps from towns to schools to villages.
Each entity has its share of problems that continue to get worse each and every year.
The 2013 town budgets are now in place, and following a lot of similar discussion on how the continual increase in pension costs skyrocketing caused headaches for town boards as they crafted their spending plans for the next fiscal year, some school boards are already talking 2013-14 budgets and there are likely going to be some common themes that occur there as well.
It is a difficult place for board members to be in. The balance of keeping tax rates reasonable while allowing students to have the most quality education possible is an enormous task.
These fine men and women are elected, but volunteer their time as unpaid officials, to come up with important choices. For that reason, we appreciate the hard work they do.
But there are going to be many difficult choices to be made.
Among the areas of concern are going to be teaching positions.
Several area districts let go many good, quality educators in the last couple of years. There are many factors that play a role into that.
The sad reality is that in order to keep those teachers, with increases in state mandates, and the annual guessing game as to how much each district will receive in state aid, somebody was going to get hurt. Either it meant loss of teachers, loss of curriculum or a major increase in tax rates, which is unreasonable in poor economic conditions.
Many teachers ended up being the sacrificial lambs, but there really was not much of an alternative. Asking taxpayers to absorb a giant increase is not something that can, or should be done in these times, as many families are struggling financially.
The loss of more teachers would lead to increase in class sizes. It would mean less one-on-one time between students and educators.
At this time, boards should ask themselves, what can we do to maintain our current staffing levels without hurting the quality of education offered to students?
During the budget process last winter, the Hamburg School District held a public forum to try and generate more ideas by allowing taxpayers to issue thoughts, and questions. They held another similar forum recently, at the beginning of the process.
It is an idea that other districts should copy. Because the more ideas that are presented, the better the odds are that some of them may ultimately lead to the saving of teachers, curriculum and keep taxes at a reasonable rate.
The reality is that there still may be some positions on the line as the process plays itself out.
Right now, districts are entering into precarious positions where if more teachers are handed pink slips, the quality of education is going to sink.
We hope objective number one to start the budget process is, save our teachers.
ē If Sunday is any indication of what our winter will be like, then it is not going to be anywhere near as mild as it was last year.
As a result, there were a lot of cautious drivers on the road as the afternoon led to some difficult driving conditions. Getting used to driving in the snow is always a challenge.
But by dinner time, the snow had slowed down and the streets were overall, in good condition.
We want to commend the hard work of our town highway departments and village departments of public works for getting the streets in shape on Sunday.
Something tells me that the leftover salt in the barns from last year, is going to be put to good use throughout this winter season.