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Why’s Putin matter?

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NEXT TUESDAY, MAY 17, is Election Day for the six public school districts in Columbia County and most of the 731 districts statewide. Here’s something to consider if you’re registered to vote and you plan to cast a ballot in your district: Don’t let Vladimir Putin influence your decision.

Every school district has to have a budget, and no matter which district you live in, the school budget is a public document. It tells you how the money will be spent (staff, administration, materials, transportation, etc.) and where it comes from (mostly the state and the district’s property tax). The election gives us taxpaying citizens a chance not only to express our opinions about the amount of the budget with a Yes or No. It also gives us a chance to vote on which school board member candidates (all of them volunteers) are best suited to set district policy overall.

So what’s Putin got to do with it? His war is a big part of why gas prices are so high. High gas prices are one of the reason the overall rate of inflation is historically high. All of us need to remind ourselves that it is not the fault of students, teachers or administrators that gas costs so much.

Despite its flaws, the way we fund education in this state is arguably one of the more democratic election processes in our democracy. Our school districts in this state must limit the increase in the tax revenues it collects from year to year to roughly 2% (it can vary slightly). A district may only exceed this so-called “2% cap” if 60% or more of voters approve the budget.

There’s also the issue of leadership on the ballot. In the Ichabod Crane district the current board recently affirmed its support of a 2021 state Board of Regents initiative called “DEI,” with the initials standing for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. That matter came up at a recent school board meeting, where questions were raised about a middle school club for LGBTQ+ students and their “allies.” Board of Education President Matthew Nelson read a statement confirming the board’s support for the club.

It is that level of understanding and sensitivity that we should all expect from our public officials and especially from our school board members countywide.

Please vote Tuesday, May 17.

The districts are:

Chatham Central School District

Germantown Central School District

Hudson City School District

Ichabod Crane Central School District

New Lebanon Central School District

Taconic Hills Central School District

Information on budgets, candidates and ballot propositions are on the district websites. They are also in the fliers that districts mail to residents and from each district’s administration office.

The budgets are reasonable.

The students need to know we care.

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