Views from around New York State: May 27, 2021

Views from around New York State

Schools should spend Federal money carefully

From: The Adirondack Daily Enterprise
It’s no surprise that all local school budgets were approved by voters Tuesday, May 18.

Between additional state aid approved by the state Legislature and federal pandemic aid, most of the proposed budgets came with either no tax increase or a nominal increase in local property taxes.

But local voters should make sure they are paying attention to how school districts are proposing to spend that federal pandemic aid. New York state received about $12.5 billion while school districts received a total of $9 billion in direct aid.

In our view, routine expenses should remain the domain of local and state taxpayers.

Care must be taken in planning what’s best for the needs of the individual district. Some districts may need major renovations to heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems to promote breathing easier for all who work and learn there. Others may require wholesale updating of their technology platforms to platforms to best prepare for effective online learning.

Care must be taken as well to ensure maximum input from the school district’s administrators, teaching staff, parents and students so that final spending decisions reflect a broad consensus of a district’s stakeholders.

Many schools will likely have a lot of money to spend helping students make up for lost time. That is essential, but the federal investment is enough to do a lot more than that. It’s enough to created targeted programs that help children achieve more than they would have if COVID-19 had never happened and schools had never been closed in the first place.

Taxpayers shouldn’t settle just for the old status quo. For this kind of money, they should demand a level of education higher than before.

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