To the voters of the Lake George School District:
We are nearing the May 21 vote on the 2013-14 budget and all-important election of four candidates to the school board to represent you the parents, students, and taxpayers.
What did the senior members of the board do for the No. 1 priority, the students, after the last budget passed? They voted to give the teachers a four year contract with raises of 2.28 percent, 2.81 percent and 2.9 percent plus their salary step increases which average 2.5 percent each year (with some exceptions — there is no step increase in year 2013-14).
Like our Senators and Congressman, they have a spending problem — always asking for more money. Just recently, the district had $147,000 in state aid reinstated. Could that money along with some additional reserve fund money which is now in excess of $800,000 (your money) have lowered the tax increase to zero? All this, as the taxes increase enrollment declines. I wonder how many more students we will lose next year? Since the year 2008-09 we have seen a steady decline in enrollment, 140 less students.
The cost for district employee health insurance for a less-expensive family PPO plan was $22,045 annually plus Medicare costs. The figures for 2013-2014 costs are not yet available. Also, the cost to the district for dental insurance is between $592 and $1,485 annually per employee.
Under the Obama Health Care Act, who do you think will pay the 40 percent tax on any plan which costs more than $18,000? Most eligible district employees can retire after 10 years of service with health insurance for life with only a minor contribution by themselves. Additionally, the state retirement system costs continue to spiral upward.
As a member of the school district’s Community Relations Committee and a voice at board meetings, I have talked with newer board members and some candidates and it is refreshing to hear their proactive thoughts and ideas to move the district toward greater excellence. They want more student opportunities while watching out for the taxpayers.
With your help, we have applied the brakes to the runaway budget increases, but we need some fresh thinking on the board. I urge you to take this unique opportunity and carefully consider who you vote for.
Philip Ostrom, Lake George