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Shelter Island Reporter editorial: Support the school budget by  voting today

At last week’s Board of Education budget hearing, it was revealed the proposed Shelter Island School District spending proposal of $12.66 million represents one of the lowest increases year-to-year, coming in 60th among 67 Long Island school districts.

The plan would increase spending by 1.76%, or $217,967 over the past two years. The district could have increased taxes by an additional $387,345 and still remained under the state-mandated 2% cap.

Nonetheless, a proposition introduced by a taxpayer that could hike spending by $102,498.12 to pay for busing and ferry fares to transport students to a private school forces the district to require 60% of voters approving the budget in Tuesday’s voting to pass.

That’s because the busing proposition, if approved, would result in piercing the 2%tax cap, something the administration has worked hard to avoid, while maintaining and enhancing educational programs and extra-curricular activities.

New York State mandates students must be bused at the expense of their home districts to attend private schools within a 15-mile radius. However, the distance would increase to 17 miles, if voters approve the proposition.

Because the administration, Board of Education and staff worked to make necessary cuts to the original budget proposal, voters might think achieving that 60% would easily be achieved.

After all, in 2022, voters approved the district’s budget by a vote of 165 to 16. That bodes well for this year, but if residents stay home, thinking the 2023-24 budget is a shoe-in, a 60% margin could be difficult to achieve.

For the efforts made to curb spending — while providing a first-class educational experience for students — and district officials’ ability during this inflationary period to keep increases so low, this budget deserves public support.

We heartily encourage voters to show that support by turning out at the school gymnasium Tuesday between noon and 9 p.m. to endorse this responsible spending plan.

The Reporter is not endorsing candidates for election to the Board of Education, but notes there are two incumbents and two newcomers vying for three seats, and all four are excellent candidates deserving of consideration.