Johnsburg Central School
Opposition to Johnsburg Central School District's proposed 2012-13 budget became vocal this week, shortly after the school board approved the document.
The board also rejected a proposal by community members that would force it to show and discuss all union contract agreements before they are ratified.
A pair of community members, Tony Moro and David Braley, both of whom have run failed campaigns for board seats, cited studies that they say show the district is overpaying for underperforming education.
Several more residents at the Monday, April 16 board meeting voiced support for the district, saying it is turning out strong students despite repeated layoffs and budget cuts, including those for the coming year.
The 2012-13 budget, which calls for a 1.61 percent decrease in spending over the current year's plan, would total $9,697,932. The levy would rise 0.61 percent compared to the current year, the maximum allowed by the state-mandated property tax ceiling formula. A public hearing on the spending plan is scheduled for May 7, and voters have their final say on the budget May 15.
The budget process had moved through weeks of public meetings smoothly, with few critical comments from audience members.
That quiet was broken April 14, with a political ad in the News Enterprise announcing Moro's latest bid for a board seat.
In the ad, he accuses the board and administration of hiding financial information, including where union dues go, and analysis of poor student performance. It also alleges faculty members inflate their pensions inappropriately by taking on extra duties in the years just prior to retirement.
Moro and Braley picked up these themes at the board meeting.
District Superintendent Mike Markwica and board President Bill Conner refuted the allegations and discussed how student test scores have been hurt by state mandates that have changed repeatedly without notice.
The loudest response to Moro and Braley came from others in the audience who cited contradicting school-performance studies and the experience of their own children in the district.
Jeremy Williams said, "My two girls come home with math homework that just blows my wife and me away. My kindergarten daughter is learning 'capacities,'" the math concept of how much something can hold.
Other audience members said Moro and Braley were insulting teachers, most of whom are neighbors. Some asked if the pair believed that faculty and staff were working to hurt students, but neither replied.
After the meeting, Moro said that drastic funding cuts to businesses results in stronger, more innovative companies, and that the same will be true for Johnsburg.
"This isn't a lousy school," Moro said. It just needs to stop spending so much money.