All districts need vision

Many area school districts are breathing a sigh of relief after receiving the gift of an increase in aid in the New York state budget for the next year. Area property taxpayers are likely to be pleased as well, since lesser aid may have meant higher taxes.

But let’s be honest about the recent years of the school budget process: the increase in state aid does nothing to fix the crisis facing our numerous small school districts. Next year, those same concerns about lack of cash will continue to be heard.

That problem: we need more state aid.

Just because it was found this year does not mean it will be available in 2015-16. And, come to think of it, only one district in our area does not consistently complain when it comes to the budget process. That is the Dunkirk City Schools.

With nearly 2,000 students, Superintendent Gary Cerne and Business Manager William Thiel have done an excellent job of holding the line when it comes to tax rates. Other smaller districts have not fared as well.

Which brings us back to the major problem: area schools will not be any healthier financially next year. The coming 10 months are a time for all area education officials to sit down and map out a vision for the future for their district.

Where do they want to be in five years? Where do they want to be in 10? Will their district even be viable in three years?

Residents need direction. And school superintendents, who make more than $200,000 in total compensation, need to be more than cheerleaders for the “woe-is-us” attitude for more state aid. They need to be realistic – like any other chief executive officer at any business or corporation.

And, realistically, the status quo of just planning for the next year is no longer acceptable. That’s why a vision for 2020 is something each district’s residents deserve.