Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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May 14th, 2010

Vote in school board elections

Sullivan County school districts will be holding school board elections next Tuesday. These elections often go unnoticed by the general public even though they have tremendous impact on how our children receive their education.

School Boards control every aspect in running our schools including hiring superintendants and other administrators. They set budgets that ultimately decide what we will pay in school taxes.

Only 20 percent of a school budget is controlled by a district, while the State of New York mandates and sets certain requirements and criteria. The state has slashed funding to our schools forcing taxpayers to potentially foot the bill if school districts do not come up with other means to meet their budgets.

On Tuesday, not only will we have the opportunity to elect members to the school board, but we will also have the opportunity to approve or disapprove proposed budgets for our school districts.

School Boards are an important part of education across the country. They are the principal democratic body representing all the public in educational matters.

It should be noted that it is not a prerequisite for those sitting on a school board to have children attending public schools. In fact, I remember in New York City when there were elected school boards, there was an outcry from a community that parents with children in private schools were controlling the public schools, this led to a nasty school board election.

In the past, the Sullivan West School Board elections took the cake as the place for the most hotly contested races in Sullivan County, but this year the Monticello School Board election will most likely win.

Due to budget shortfalls, and to avoid a higher school tax hike, the Monticello School Board recently voted to approve closing The Duggan School in Bethel in favor of cutting afterschool programs. The Duggan School is operating at 32 percent below capacity.

This issue enraged so many residents it became a hot bed of controversy amongst elected officials and community leaders. It pitted the Town of Thompson against the Town of Bethel.

This year’s election is expected to be the largest in Monticello’s School Board history with 11 candidates running for 3 open seats.

Besides the issue of the Duggan School, there are those who live in the Village of Monticello who believe the needs of their children are not being met by the school district.

Former legislator Sean Rieber, one of the candidates running in Tuesday’s School Board election in Monticello told me, “Crews are coming into the central administration building in droves seeking absentee ballots.  They have told the clerk that it is their intent to win all 3 seats on the board by delivering 600 absentees.”

Rieber’s concerns of absentee balloting and swaying the election might be real. There has been momentum in the Village of Monticello to elect candidates who years ago would not even be considered for political office.
The big issues in all school districts in all likelihood revolve educating our students while balancing budgets.
School board candidates should equally be advocating a centralized Board of Education for Sullivan County. We need methods of consolidation to save taxpayers money.

We have too many school districts. Our teachers are over worked and underpaid, while the salaries of countless superintendents and administrators are in the scale of $150,000 per year.

Merging schools districts can be cost effective, synergize programs, and avoid duplication. Integration of purchasing and contractor services could also save taxpayers huge amounts of monies.
Those elected to school boards are hard working volunteers who are truly concerned about our children and their future. I have nothing but praise for those dedicated individuals.
Just like in any election, voter turnout will determine who gets elected. Please vote on Tuesday, and good luck to all the candidates.

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