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School funding: What is enough?

A school budget vote sign.

A school budget vote sign. Credit: Steve Pfost

Although I understand the frustrations of taxpayers, a 2.6 percent increase is hardly enough to sustain our schools [“School taxes on LI to rise 2.6%,” News, March 11].

The budget for education passed in Albany allocates only $618 million in new “foundation aid,” which is a fraction of the $4.2 billion owed from the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit.

If New York State paid its fair share, local taxpayers wouldn’t feel the cost as much. Lawmakers passed a budget that will hardly put a dent in the amount our students — especially students of color, English language learners and students with disabilities — need to thrive. We need to come together within our communities to support our students and not allow Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and other elected officials to continue to underfund our schools year after year.

Kelly Grzinic, Massapequa Park

Editor’s note: The writer is studying to become a teacher.

Thank you for writing about why property taxes never go down, even though state aid keeps rising and enrollments are shrinking overall [“The vexing riddle of school funding,” Editorial, April 3].

As a resident of Commack since 1997, I’ve seen the same thing. When I first moved here and enrollment was growing, the increases in enrollment were always disclosed. Now, as enrollment has dropped over the last five years, this information is never disclosed. I send an annual email to the school board to obtain the information.

With regard to tax deductions, Newsday’s editorial mentions that state and local property tax deductions are limited to $10,000. State income tax is included in that $10,000 limit. Many on Long Island already pay $10,000 in income taxes, which will mean that none of their property taxes will be deductible.

Lastly, with the elimination of the personal exemption and doubling of the standard deduction, many people will not itemize their taxes. That makes even the $10,000 deduction meaningless. In effect, the tax benefit of owning a home is very, very little, and for many it is zero.

Peter Lanci, Commack

In its April 3 editorial, “The vexing riddle of school funding,” Newsday’s editorial board explained what contributes to our school taxes increasing, even as state aid rises and the student population decreases.

Our school districts have done an excellent job of promoting their budgets and how our money is being spent, and most people believe them. Unfortunately, that doesn’t tell us whether the spending produced worthwhile educational results.

My North Shore School District outspends Manhasset schools by almost $10,000 per pupil, but Manhasset students score better on Regents tests. I’ve asked the school board why, many times, and its standard answer is, we do more than educate. That is a healthy serving of baloney.

We pay dearly for relying on school board members to make the best decisions for our communities. The only way to change out-of-control school spending is for new people to get involved.

Jerry Romano, Sea Cliff