To the Editor,
They say the best way to get out of a hole is to stop digging. I am deeply concerned that we are continuing to dig a deeper hole for the North Rockland Community.
The current proposed budget of $206,330,813 with a proposed tax levy increase of 3.63 percent to educate 8,129 students is simply unsustainable. There is no better evidence than the slide presented at the Committee of Whole Meeting held on March 12, 2013, where it shows that by the 2015-2016 there will be a nearly $15 million budget gap when the reserve funds have been depleted.
No matter where you go, the number one issue heard here in the community is that my taxes are too high. Many residents are getting to the tipping point of deciding whether staying in North Rockland will be affordable much longer. Rockland County has the third highest property taxes in the nation of which the school tax levy represents 70 percent.
There are no easy answers. The School Board and District has done a good job of trying to reduce costs by cutting more than $40 million within the last 5 years. The problem though is that they are trying to be more effective and efficient in a very outdated playbook. Our current School District structure was created for the 20th Century and a different time. In a current flat, social and mobile world, we need to create a more effective and efficient system to educate our children for the 21st Century. There is an opportunity to reduce costs through the greater sharing and consolidation of services without impacting our classroom like many other school districts elsewhere have done. And although many hate change, it will be much easier to cut expenses through design with all parties at the table than by default. It will be much more painful when it happens by default.
In the meantime, the next North Rockland School District Board meeting will take place on April 2, 2013 at 7 p.m. I urge you to attend and be educated so you can make an informed decision on May 21, 2013 for this year’s Budget.