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School vote: In Oyster Bay, quality vs. financial reality

Alicia Smilowitz voted against the proposed school district budget and tax increase for the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Central School District.

Smilowitz, who is in her 60s, has lived in the district since 1976. She said the school district — including teachers and administrators — ought to recognize the financial reality that has led families and businesses across the region to tighten their belts. Instead, she said, the district exists in a bubble, thinking it is somehow immune to cuts.

But Thomas Burke, 57, said he had no reservations about supporting the budget. He has had three children in the district; two have graduated and are in college.

“It is a small price to pay for the quality of education they provide here, from the academics to the performing arts to sports,” he said, fresh from the polls. “It is something we must invest in. This is a special place.”

The proposed $50,657,664 budget is 3.94 percent larger than the current budget and calls for a 5.4 percent increase in the local tax levy. The budget calls for the elimination of one administrative position, 3.5 teacher positions and one clerical position. Teachers and teachers’ assistants will not receive contract raises next year, the district has said.

Smilowitz wonders when enough will be enough.

“What makes this district different than others who do it for less?” She asked. “I’m very aggravated. This has just been snowballing. When do you say no?”

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