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Shelter Island Reporter editorial: Vote yes on the School District budget

Voters get the final say Tuesday about the proposed $13.1 million budget for the 2024-25 Shelter Island School District budget , $11.5 million of which would come from property taxes.

Through five budget workshops, nary a word was spoken about the proposal by potential voters, or even a question about why decisions were made.

That naturally leads one to conclude that everyone is pleased with the hard work that has gone into this budget’s creation.

In reality, budgeting is a year-round process for staff, administrators and Board of Education members who are constantly evaluating spending that provides “the best education possible at the most efficient cost possible,” as Superintendent Brian Doelger, Ed.D. has said.

From the time Mr. Doelger went public with the budget draft, the goals have remained the same.

It has been a particularly challenging time to create the 2024-25 budget proposal. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) proposed sharp cuts to state school aid, forcing Mr. Doelger and the Board of Education to create not simply one proposal, but an alternative draft with  spending cuts and potential means for finding revenues elsewhere, in case the governor’s cuts had been sustained by the legislature.

That the budget was several weeks late didn’t help, creating a guessing game right up to the last minute.

To those who think the district should close the local school and send students off- Island, we believe they fail to realize the expense and loss of educational and extra curricular activities.

Thanks to a remarkable and dedicated staff, Island students have been able to take some courses for college credit. Investments in advanced equipment and materials have enabled students to take courses that many colleges don’t even offer.

In addition to voting on the budget, there are two experienced and excellent Board of Education members seeking re-election and running unopposed. Margaret Colligan and Karina Montalvo have each earned another term, and deserve a vote of confidence.

Moving forward, critical decisions are made throughout the year, not just at budget time. We wish more voters would pay close attention and provide their thoughts to those decisions, not simply sit on the sidelines as critics.

We think the district’s budget proposal is a remarkable document and we heartily encourage voters to approve it.

Voting on the budget takes place at the school gymnasium Tuesday, May 21, from noon to 9 p.m.