April 10, 2013

Budget letter deadline set


---- — This is the time of year when many people have the most emphatic opinions about what is going on in their school districts. The Press-Republican wants to help them get their voices heard.

School boards are making important decisions right now that will affect a wide range of people in the community. Not one district in the area has been spared from cuts. Those that result in job losses or program curtailments have the biggest impact, of course, but at every school, changes are being made that probably wouldn’t be happening if money were not an issue.

For better or worse, those changes will alter the equation for students, parents, teachers, support staff, administrators and community residents. They will mean new ways of approaching the already stressed system of educating our young people and could have bearing on their future careers and lives.

So it is important that everyone has a chance to give their input. Earlier this year, we urged people to attend school-board meetings and let officials know what direction they want to see the budget go. Some residents and parents and a few students have done that.

But we hope many others will express themselves through our Letters to the Editor forum. We receive 2,000 to 3,000 letters a year from people who want to share their views on a wide range of issues. It is one of the best-read parts of the Press-Republican, both in print and online.

It is easy to participate. Just write a letter that doesn’t exceed 300 words (that is a strict limit, no exceptions) and list your name, address and phone number. We don’t allow anonymous Letters to the Editor.

Email your letter to or mail it to Editor Lois Clermont, Press-Republican, P.O. Box 459, Plattsburgh NY 12901.

Do that soon because it can take a couple of weeks for a letter to appear, especially at this time of year, when the volume increases. School votes will be held Tuesday, May 21.

To make sure we have enough time to get all the letters in, we set a deadline every year. This year, we need all letters about board candidates and school budgets by 5 p.m. Monday, May 13.

We rarely reject letters, as long as they don’t exceed 300 words and are not libelous, because we cherish our role as protectors of the First Amendment. But we implore writers to employ civil discourse as they share their views, no matter how contentious the budget debate.

People are more likely to listen, to consider changing their views, if letter writers present a reasoned, factual opinion instead of coming across as insulting or angry. If you don’t think school officials are moving in the right direction, offer better suggestions.

Changes must be made, and the volunteers on local school boards are trying to spare the students from suffering. They need your help.