Cheers and jeers

CHEERS – To 14. Eyes and ears should be on those involved with merging two school districts into one. The Oppenheim-Ephratah and St. Johnsville Board of Education members have been working together diligently to ensure the merger will become a success. The upcoming election March 19 will include 14 candidates vying for the opportunity to be among the seven members of the new St. Johnsville-Oppenheim-Ephratah school board. They all are showing enthusiasm and interest. We hope those who lose the election will have an opportunity to serve in other leadership roles in the new district. It would be refreshing to see a similar number of candidates come forth for school board elections in other local districts this year. We believe the St. Johnsville-Oppenheim-Ephratah merger will prove its value to the students.

JEERS – To a thirst for power. Less than two weeks from now in New York City, the ban on serving sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces will go into effect. There will be no more 2-liter bottles with pizza orders, and forget those cost-saving pitchers of soda. Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s success in exiling the “big gulp” has come up against a bump, however. Surgery drinks sold in supermarkets and grocery stores follow state regulations, not the city’s health department. The mayor is now calling for the state to follow his ban. The governor and our legislators should stay clear of this. Bloomberg’s ban is another example of government moving into your home, uninvited.

JEERS – To efforts to overturn New York state’s property tax cap. The state’s largest teachers union and some parents sued to overturn the cap, claiming it widens the gap between rich and poor districts and interferes with local control of schools. We hope the courts reject the legal effort. The tax cap is serving a vital service – keeping property taxes from skyrocketing. Property owners in this state pay some of the highest tax rates in the nation. While we still contend the state must provide more mandate relief to local schools and government, the tax cap should remain in place. If taxes go much higher, more people will be unable to afford to own property or live in New York, and that certainly would be bad for school districts.