Dear Governor Cuomo,
We, the residents of Sachem School District, Long Island, are writing in protest of the projected 2013-14 NYS aid to our district.
Sachem School District is located in the middle of Suffolk County, comprising the towns of Holbrook, Holtsville, Farmingville, Ronkonkoma, Lake Ronkonkoma and Lake Grove. Each year there are approximately 15,000 students being educated in Sachem Schools.
Our district repeatedly and routinely produces championship level sports teams, music groups and academic clubs. Our test scores show performance above state average every year. Our sense of community and pride is strong, and we work hard for what we achieve.
Our district is also heavily taxed, and our residents have been willing over and over to take on more tax hikes for the sake of our children and the quality of education and programs that they receive. However, there comes a time when we need to speak up, and that time is now.
The current state aid proposal, prepared and proposed by Gov. Cuomo, projects that Sachem will receive only $105,380,122 in state aid. This is close to 1 million dollars less than last year and far less than what was expected. In fact, the projected aid to Sachem is about the same as it was in 2005. In 2005, the Sachem community received $105.2M. In 2009 we received $119.2M (over $14 million more than we are projected to receive this year). Despite the reduction in aid, the NYS TRS payments, healthcare costs and overall operating costs have skyrocketed. Most notable, we have received NO relief at all to NYS mandated costs. All this has resulted in a current shortfall of over $26 million dollars.
THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE.
Last year, the state directed school districts to use all available reserves in order to fund the previous years’ budgets. At Sachem we did just that. Over the last few years we have virtually depleted all available reserves to maintain the programs during the financial crises. The state assured us that restoration in aid was “on the way”. Unfortunately our reserves are now at a dangerously low level and our auditors have called us a “district in financial distress”.
OUR AID HAS BEEN CUT WHILE DISTRICTS ALL AROUND US ARE RECEIVING INCREASES THIS YEAR. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE.
Without additional aid from the state, we will be forced to either raise taxes over 16% (!!!!!) or cut all programs other than basic required educational classes – nothing else – and substantially raise class size.
Governor Cuomo, we expected your support when we voted for you. We expected you to look with fair eyes and good faith when calculating state aid to our deserving district. And we expect that you will revisit this and make right what is terribly wrong with the projected state aid package for Sachem School District.