Our children are watching, vote ‘Yes’ on today’s budget

Our children are watching. On June 18, they deserve to watch our community show up and vote YES in support of their education. And at this point, in support of them, too.

This spring, our kids watched as adults debated (to put it generously) the Greater Johnstown school district’s 2019-2020 budget proposal. They saw many rally in support of their schooling. But they also watched some crassly question their need for a well-rounded education. “Are Johnstown students the kind who get good jobs or go to college anyway?” They’ve heard folks snicker at the relevance of their talents — in art, in music, in athletics, in community service. “Ha. Where will that get them?” Some of our most engaged and thoughtful students were accused of being “props.”

But, unfortunately, there are some among us unfazed by who’s watching — whether it’s our children, potential home buyers, current homeowners, new businesses interested in relocating to this area, or the entire rest of the Capital Region. No, instead they argue that mistakes were made and now someone must suffer, even if it’s our kids and our property values. They are determined to let the district and local economy fall apart to prove a point and to punish the current leadership. They remain confidently unpersuaded by facts. The fact that Johnstown’s per student tax levy spending is already lower than 90 percent of all school districts in New York State, and only supports 26 percent of the district’s total budget. (In neighboring districts, on average, the tax levy supports 37 percent of the total budget.) The fact that for most homeowners, the increase amounts to $14 to 20 a month (before STAR). Or the fact that this budget is part of a solid plan to get us back on track towards having a fully-funded high school, kindergarten, athletics, a wide variety of electives, and an enviable arts and music program.

I’m a graduate of JHS (class of ’99) and now a parent in the district. The community I remember from my childhood chose to invest in the next generation. The adults around us believed in our potential and told us so. We had elective teachers who saw talent in us before we did. Coaches who pushed us further than we thought we could go. Club leaders who made us laugh (and let’s be honest, on some days were the only reason we wanted to come to school at all). Neighbors who wrote us letters of recommendation for our first jobs or for our college applications. Counselors whose advice we wish we had taken. And leaders who reminded us that no matter what challenge life brings, the most important first step to success is always, simply, showing up.

In order to pass, the revised budget requires a majority vote. I have no doubt that those who intend to vote against it will show up. Therefore, YES voters must show up in greater numbers. Let’s commit to doing just that. No excuses. Rain or shine, we need to get out the vote [today].

∫ Let’s vote before work. Or after work. Or on our lunch break.

∫ Let’s plan to bring a friend. Or encourage a neighbor to join us.

∫ Let’s offer a ride to someone without transportation. Or ask for a ride if we need one.

∫ If the kids are with us that night, we will bring them along. Let them watch democracy and the spirit of community in action through the power of this vote.

Nelson Mandela once said, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” On June 18, let’s commit to showing up, and to showing our children that Johnstown believes in their potential, in their talents, and in what their success means for the future of this community.

Either way, they will be watching.




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