‘Tax to the cap’ mindset is a big disappointment

I was disappointed to read that the head of the New York State School Finance Consortium, Rick Timbs, has advocated that school districts “tax to the cap” when putting forth their budgets this spring. Why bother to elect School Board members who go through the budget analysis process? I certainly understand the issue as a former Lancaster School Board member. Last year, my district chose not to “tax to the cap.”

It is no pleasant task to arrive at a school budget. We all know that the state is reluctant to ease the chokehold of its mandates to schools. Given that fact, all employees of a district and students need to come to grips with the fact that there has to be a line in the sand. Timbs’ recommendation is counter-intuitive to why School Boards exist. They exist to provide the balance needed in budget planning.

I might suggest that districts look to renegotiate contracts with their bargaining units, including administrators, rather than expect the community that supported them this year to write the next check to the tax cap. Students, too, must realize that these times necessitate a reduction on what schools can offer them. Taxpayers are at a breaking point with the recent 2 percent Social Security reduction in weekly take-home pay. School Boards should not simply ask the community for what the maximum levy under the cap allows. It is hard work, but that is why they were elected.

Let’s keep boards relevant in that decision-making process and simply not send the white flag up the pole and throw in the towel. School boards are the bridge between the community that elected them and the administration that formulates these annual budgets. “Taxing to the cap” smacks of a diluted representational process.

David Zalenski