Speak Out Against Proposed Tax Increase: Next Meeting 7:30pm Monday, Feb. 18

Taxpayers, voters, homeowners and parents, in the Octorara Area School District, need to standup and speak-out. We have all complained about the property tax increases over the years. The school board and administration has been allowed to run the school, create budgets, and raise taxes with little to no voter involvement and oversight. From time to time, concerned citizens have spoke up, only to be talked down to, and have their ideas and concerns unilaterally dismissed and ignored.

The school board would, in part, blame the teacher’s union for their troubles. “The teachers’ union is too powerful,” they say. It is no secret that the biggest cost within the school district is labor. The board would tell us that these costs are unable to be changed, and that the teacher’s union is too powerful and too unreasonable. Is this true?

Last year, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported that the Gateway School District was facing a $6 million dollar shortfall for their 2012-13 budget. To resolve it, their school board voted on a spending plan that would raise taxes, cut programs and furlough 17 teachers. However, while…

…teachers were scheduled to receive a 2 percent raise this year under the contract that expires Aug. 31, 2013. Instead, teachers accepted a 1 percent pay increase and waived additional compensation to which they were entitled under the contract for giving up a prep period to cover another class. (Read more…)

Our board would tell us the contract is done, that things like the starting salary jump to over $49,000 and additional compensation (raises for educational advancement and tuition reimbursement) cannot be renegotiated out. However, this example proves there can be cooperation among the administration, school board and union.

However, no teachers’ union is going to give concessions if the board is unwilling to take a hard look at issues like administrative overhead, and wasteful spending.

In all honesty, I have no idea what goes on in the school board’s thought process. Is it a lack of political will that keeps them from protecting taxpayers, or is it their vision of Octorara having a budget and spending in line with the wealthier schools to our east?

We need to remind the school board, they are our elected officials. They need to be reminded, it is the voters and taxpayers who get the final word.

If you agree, we need your support. If you have yet to sign the petition, do it today. We also need to see you at the next board meeting, 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 18. It will be at the Octorara Jr./Sr. High School Multipurpose Room. There is only strength in numbers. We no longer have the luxury of simply complaining when our mortgage company increases our budget payment. Don’t let yourself be taxed out of your home. Invite your friends, family, and neighbors.

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