On the whole, though, more agreement than contention was in evidence under the yellow lights of the gym at the Hastings Academy, and audience members, holding their applause at the urging of Marion Fleming, a moderator provided by the Central Nassau League of Women Voters, was given a lot to think about.
Although it will be held this May, the current school board election appears to be more about the years 2014 through 2016 than about 2013. The primary disagreement is about the school district’s so-called “7, 6, 6, 6 plan,” a budgetary strategy that proposes that this year’s request for a 7 percent tax increase, followed by increases of 6 percent over the following three years, will produce a lasting truce between the school district and the three-headed budget beast of rising retirement and health care costs compounded by shrinking state aid. Press and Rebore both said they have doubts about the feasibility of the plan, while Clark and Taylor both feel it’s the best choice among several distasteful options.
Here are the candidates’ answers to an audience question about the idea:
Question: Do you support the four-year 7, 6, 6, 6 plan?
Taylor: Supports the plan “100 percent.” She feels it’s the “best, most responsible way to handle the budget.” She mentioned that as a taxpayer herself, she expects to have trouble paying the extra money, but says that although she is sensitive to these problems, she feels that the tax increases are about more than education. “This affects home values too. Even for people who don’t have kids in the schools,” Taylor said.
Clark: Supports the plan. “I understand it’s expensive,” she said. “I work full-time, so do my husband [and] my kids, and we are barely making it. But Baldwin is the second-lowest-spending district; we’re already very lean. This is the best way to handle it.”