Opinion: The Budget Vote Failure From a Student’s Perspective


Credit: Northport-East Northport UFSD

For the first time since 2005, the Northport-East Northport UFSD budget has not passed, failing by a slender 167-vote margin.

Harrison LeBow, Contributor

As cyclical as the seasons, the budget vote has come and gone. This time, it’s left a mess in its tracks. For the first time since 2005, the Northport-East Northport UFSD budget has not passed, failing by a slender 167-vote margin. 

The proposed budget called for a 0.75% tax levy increase — a roughly $58 tax hike to most residents. Pamphlets and advertisements touting the budget’s strength stuck to a similar script: the preservation of art and music, emotional support for students, and promises of constructive class sizes were all emphasized. The same can be said for the opposition: large numbers lauding the financial surplus, coupled with a crimson “VOTE NO” in the lower left-hand corner, rang in our town’s collective ears.

As a junior attending Northport High School, I couldn’t help but feel conflicted when presented with such information. I knew both sides had merit, but I wondered which truly had my peers in mind. So I did some digging.

In reviewing the Budget Appropriation Status Report located on the District’s website, I stumbled upon a number of interesting financial figures. Under the proposed budget for the 2021-22 school year, a plurality of the programs listed would experience a slight reduction in funding (a 2-4% decline, on average). A few specific programs, however, were set set to receive an increase of tenfold that amount.

After careful analysis, it seems that these increases were not selected at random. Each reflects a demand in coordination with our current political, medical, and social climate. The program undergoing the largest percent increase in funds — with an extra $129,721.00 added — is entitled Elementary Summer School. As an effort to soften the blow of educational regression caused by the pandemic, a fully-funded Elementary Summer School program is a welcome addition to boost the instruction of elementary-aged children that have been adversely affected by COVID-19. 

Other programs designated to receive at least a 5% increase in funds under the proposed budget are Grade 6 Core Education, Vocational Education, Health Education and Psychological Services.

With a year that shook the very core of America’s educational system, I find comfort in the programs the proposed budget attempted to raise. 

The increase in Health and Psychological Services is an obvious one; it seeks to promote the social-emotional wellbeing of students — many of whom have sat in a dark bedroom for months, half-listening to their Biology teacher instruct over Google Meet. 

As undergraduate college enrollment drops across the nation (university enrollment fell by 2.9% in 2021, a result of the pandemic and the ensuing financial hardships), I applaud the budget’s emphasis on Vocational Education. Vocational school is an option many Northport High School students can consider, and a proposed increase in funds would surely make the process easier. 

May 18 brought this comfort to a grinding halt. From a student’s perspective, I only see an uphill battle; those who walk the halls with me know that the problems are real, and the coordinators of the proposed budget tried to quell concerns as best as they could.

Given the current financial climate, I understand that a tax increase doesn’t make much sense. But I cannot sit idly by and watch good programs with great intentions lose their momentum.

Whatever amendments are made to the budget in the following weeks, I hope the aforementioned programs are considered.