by Carm Rotella
As we moved through the budget process this year, the needs of taxpayers, parents, and students had to be considered. Our commitment to students is to ensure that every student graduates globally competitive and ready for tomorrow’s careers. The funds required to offer a high quality, equitable education are considerable but are essential to their future and ours.
Obviously, the Niagara Falls School District faces many challenges. District enrollment has dropped, we face a shrinking tax base and inadequate funding from the State of New York . Forty-five percent of children entering kindergarten in our District are below the national norm in language arts and math. Free and reduced lunch rates are used to define poverty level for a school district. Currently, approximately, 75% of our students qualify. As a result, all of our students receive a free breakfast and lunch. Finally, it is true that education costs more than it did years age. State mandates, the need for current technology, and the need to maintain our facilities and grounds costs money.
Between 12 noon and 9 p.m. on Tuesday May 17th, residents of Niagara Falls will be asked to vote on the NFSD budget for 2016-2017. This year’s budget is $137,055,127. There is NO INCREASE in the tax levy. The District has worked hard to reduce cost, including a single provider health insurance, consolidating buildings, enacting energy efficient measures, and streaming lining departments wherever possible. Due to our poverty level, 76% of the school district’s budget comes from the state while 20% comes from local property tax. This year because state funding came in at a better level, we do not have to cut for financial reasons – not programs, not staff. When you go to the polls this year, you will be able to vote on a budget that has no negative impact and that has the commitment of the Board of Education, the administration, the teachers and staff, to providing the best possible educational environment for our children.
Community involvement in the schools is critically important. Casting your vote on the budget proposition is an important way to participate in ensuring the future of our school district, our community and our children.