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by Jay Gallagher

Monday, May 17, 2010

You might want to vote tomorrow

Most people don't know who is running in school-board elections tomorrow. In fact, probably many of us don't even know anyone who is VOTING in the elections, although arguably they are the most important local balloting held all year.

According to an analysis done by the state School Boards Association, only about 10 percent of eligible voters (district residents who are 18 and U.S. citizens) will cast ballots tomorrow, when voters will decide whether to approve school spending plans as well as elect new members to school boards.

And yet this is the time when voters get to decide directly how big their school property-tax bills will be as well as who will set educational policy.

Part of the reason is undoubtedly that since the posts don't pay anything in most instances, they don't attract a lot of candidates to what seems like a totally thankless job.

Maybe it will be different this year when there is an unusually high level of voter anger at school property taxes. The trouble with that, of course, is that the property taxes for all intents and purposes are set when the school board signs a contract with its unions, not at the budget vote. The process of ratifying new contracts by long tradition is kept secret in most districts until the teacher union OKs the deal.

But tomorrow is the best shots voters have - and if they ever elected board members in large numbers who insist on letting taxpayers know what they're getting into before a contract is signed, the first tremors of a long-anticipated taxpayer revolt might be heard.

1 comment:

Ann M. Gardner, Long Island said...

In all honesty, it was one of those days I was glad for the rain in LI -- keeping some voters away? -- our budget passed and new board members look like responsible adults (not to be taken for granted). None of the incumbents ran for re-election and one took off months before her term ended (after many years on the Board). Not always a pretty sight...