It certainly can be argued that the most thankless position to be on is a school board. After all, board members are responsible for seeing that students receive a quality education while maintaining a reasonable tax rate. No pressure, right?
Although they are elected, they also do not get paid to hold the positions. They do it, in many cases, because they are impacted by what is transpiring in the respective districts – often having children of their own in school.
Their intentions are good. The responsibilities that come with it are enormous. And it is often the most thankless board to be a part of. In part because unlike town and village boards, district residents vote on the school board at the same time they are voting for prospective members.
Now, in the weeks to come, we are entering into the heart of the most murky part of the year for school boards, which is crafting a budget.
Proposed spending plans will be unveiled in the next few weeks and decisions will be scrutinized by both board members and residents.
Many teachers will sit in limbo as board members must make the difficult decisions on whether programs or staff must be let go.
This is not a very good time to try and hit people extremely hard in their pocket books. The hard part and harsh reality is that while districts are facing the economic wrath, so are the taxpayers in their districts.
This time of year is about finding balance. The balance of giving students the best possible education they possibly can receive. This must be done without major tax increases to residents.
The question then becomes, where do you find that balance? You certainly do not want to let go teachers and eliminate programs, but realistically, we all know that is a strong possibility. It’s happened before and it will happen again.
A common theme each year involves state aid. How much will be in the final state budget. For many years the state budget was not passed on time. Districts had to pass a budget to be voted on, sometimes before knowing what the actual amount they were receiving from the state is.
In Hamburg, thanks to the district and Hamburg Central Teachers Association unable to reach an agreement on the Annual Professional Performance Review Plan by the Jan. 17 deadline, the district already starts knowing there will be a hole as much as $450,000 in state aid.
We do not envy the daunting task that board members have in the weeks and months to come. This is a difficult time of year.
While it is inevitable they will be questioned, and likely criticized for decisions they make, we would like to thank school board members for the service they give to their district and their communities and wish them luck as they enter the heart of budget season.
• We are also entering into a big part of the year for villages as well, as elections are coming up in March and those budgets are also being constructed.
The Sun will keep readers informed as candidates announce their intention to run, and we will also keep an eye on North Collins, as discussion is being held on whether to place a ballot that would, if passed, make the mayoral seat a four-year term instead of two years.
It seems sometimes as if election season is a long, continuous process that overlaps.
Throughout the year, there will be a lot of key local races – beginning with villages – that will shape the landscape of our communities.
As we learn the names of candidates, we will pass them along to you.
This is shaping up to be another interesting year on the political scene, and The Sun is happy to provide you with information on candidates.