Montello teacher looks for referendum support

To the Editor:

As April 5 draws near, a great tempest of misinformation swirls about, so I write to clarify some of these untruths. To be clear: the school is being forced to referendum by the state’s revised budget, which cut $800 million to public schools. This caused hundreds of districts to seek funds elsewhere just to stay alive. 

To help alleviate the referendum’s impact, the Montello School District has made drastic cuts to teachers’ pay and benefits that other districts wouldn’t even consider. Despite this, the gap results in the only other certainty in life than death—higher taxes. While no one is thrilled, we all must recognize taxes as our duty to maintain and strengthen our society. Simply put, voting no will not result in lower taxes, but will very likely raise taxes (on average, an additional $500 est.).  

Should the referendum fail, one option is that all “extras” at the school—including sports— will be cut, leaving bare bones so unappealing, parents will move and send their kids elsewhere (leaving fewer taxpayers and less business to the town). 

More drastically, if the school closes, taxpayers would still be responsible for paying to operate the building (as per state law), the costs to transport students to other schools, and the other schools’ millage rates (4/5 of which are higher). Also, many of these districts currently and regularly go to referendum, whereas Montello hasn’t since 2008 and won’t again until 2019.  Lastly, schools like Westfield don’t even have space to accommodate our students, creating even more headaches.

In conclusion, voting no on April 5 will not help us escape the cycle of taxes and referendums, but ultimately make matters worse: property values will decline, taxes will increase, and we’ll be left wondering why we allowed this. I repeat: the school is the heart of our community and its survival is essential for our own.  

Sincerely,

/s/ James Taylor, Montello High School English teacher