Like many of you, I woke up on May 17 and saw the good news. Also like many of you, although I felt a great sense of joy, I felt an even greater sense of relief. The budget passed with 80 percent voting Yes and the bond passed with 76 percent voting Yes. Additionally, Jeff Shi and Rebecca Sassouni were elected to the school board. It was a great day for our town and we should all celebrate our dedication to public education.
A closer look at the numbers, however, leaves me concerned. Specifically, the number 1,607. That is the number of our neighbors who voted No on the school budget. Now, we all know that there was a major campaign undertaken to get people to vote No on the bond issue. If people saw fit to spend their money on mailings and full-page ads urging people to vote No on the bond, that was their right.
I received one such mailing and it made no reference at all to the budget vote. I do not believe the ads did either. Yet, 1,607 of our neighbors still voted No on the budget. Taking a look at the last three school budget elections, the total No votes over the three years was 805. That was nearly doubled in one year. In fact, the budget passed by a lower margin this year than it did in 2016 (84 percent Yes) and 2015 (82 percent Yes).
So, what do all of these numbers mean? It’s simple. For the 6,772 of us who voted Yes, we must commit right now to voting every single year. It must become part of our routine. I have lived here since 2010, and this was the first time I voted in a school election. Looking at the numbers, I am clearly not alone. This election inspired me to knock on doors, leave flyers on cars and approach complete strangers on the sidewalk, at the ice rink and at the soccer field, asking them to vote Yes.
Many of us are still wondering why so many voted No. But, please do not spend a moment thinking about conspiracy theories or criticizing your neighbor who voted differently than you did. One of the greatest things about our nation is that people have the right to express their opinion at the voting booth. And, while I hope the Nos come forward to have a dialogue about their grievances with the school, the fact is that we are not going to change all of their minds. But, none of that matters because those of us who love our schools have the numbers, and we always will, as long as we vote every single year. The only real danger to our schools is complacency—nothing more, nothing less.
The next school board meeting is on June 5 at 7:15 p.m. at Great Neck South High School. I’ll be there, and I hope you will too.