Vote for Sparta school board candidates who will stop raising taxes

Sparta /
| 06 Sep 2023 | 11:16

    Sparta homeowners experienced a 5.8% hike in property taxes this year, largely in part to school budget increases.

    As we enter the election season for open Board of Education seats, you’ll see incumbent board members promoting themselves for voting no on the recent budget, insinuating that they are not to blame for the tax increase.

    However, a board member’s job is not to simply vote no on a bad budget, but rather to bring up fiscal concerns to the business manager and superintendent, work collectively to implement necessary changes and improvements, and ensure that a sound budget is ultimately approved.

    This board was elected in part to repair our broken budget: to stop the hemorrhaging of taxpayer money by reining in overspending on unnecessary expenditures and to ensure sufficient funding for students, educational programs and facilities.

    The board members who voted no on the 2023-24 budget did none of that.

    At the budget hearing held this year, they made no remarks on the parts of the budget they were unsatisfied with, no suggestions on how to remedy the line items they disagreed with, and no mention of areas where spending could be curbed or redirected. They just voted no.

    By voting no with zero effort into budget development, they wasted their opportunity to take part in creating a balanced district budget, and therefore, they are as responsible for the 5.8% tax increase as the members who voted to pass the budget.

    As a result of their lack of input to the process, homeowners are left holding the increased tax bill, and to make matters even worse, our district still experienced teacher and nursing cuts, as well as a $308,000+ annual legal invoice.

    The No. 1 priority when balancing our budget should be the students. By cutting the nursing staff down to one nurse for 1,000+ Sparta High School students, our Board of Education is responsible for putting our children in an extremely dangerous situation. What does one nurse do when there are two life-threatening, simultaneous medical emergencies in the building?

    Furthermore, staff cuts were not even necessary when you consider our current board is spending six times more each month on our attorney than the previous board did on the former attorney.

    If Sparta elects members to the Board of Education in November who do not prioritize fiscal responsibility, nor understand their role in developing a balanced budget, our town will experience another unnecessary tax hike in 2024 as well as additional cuts to staff, activities and sports.

    If the board continues to overspend on unnecessary legal matters - rather than improving our facilities and fostering our children’s educational needs, our district ranking and scores will diminish, and our real estate values will plummet.

    I ask all Spartans to research the candidates running for Board of Education this November. Listen to the ones with taxpayers’ interests in mind; hear those who have sensible fiscal plans to right this ship.

    Vote for the slate that will stop raising taxes. Please consider Wood, Grana and Gagnon for Sparta Board of Education this November. Thank you.

    Dana Gulino