Tuesday, June 20, 2006

RIverhead budget passed

Riverhead's 2006-07 school budget passed by more than 600 votes tonight. Voters also approved the establishment of a capital reserve fund.

There was a large crowd waiting for the vote result tonight a little past 9 pm in the high school gym. The vote results were announced at 9:24 by Ed Dougherty. His announcement triggered cheers and applause in the gym.

I stopped in to hear the vote results on my way home from the office. This being Tuesday, I stay at work until I finish editing all the stories that have been filed today, and that usually means at least 8 or 9 o'clock. But I couldn't go home without finding out whether the budget passed or failed.

The budget's passage is good for our community. Congratulations, Riverhead! We did the right thing.

Now we need to turn our attention to the reforms that our state's system for funding education so desperately needs. I spoke today with State Senator Ken LaValle. He doesn't embrace the notion that the system is fundamentally flawed. He suggested we meet to discuss it after the legislative session is concluded. I am definitely going to take him up on it. Radical change is necessary, change that the reality of Albany probably won't accommodate. But we have to try. The way we fund public education in New York is stupid, with its emphasis on property taxes. Long Island gets short-changed because the state is using a formula that's 30+ years old. It's just WRONG. We have to mobilize to do something about it.

Well, this is probably the first time I'm actually using this blog the way blogs are used--to disseminate news and information. But I've been simply posting my print column here for so long, I doubt that there's anybody out there checking this thing on a Tuesday night or Wednesday. If you are, post a comment on the budget vote! What do you think we should do to avoid this agony in May 2007? What reforms should we work toward?

Your thoughts?