The winter before last I became aware of a local resident who found herself without heat on the Friday before frigid weather was expected.
I became involved because a local agency was looking for someone to take her to Riverhead to secure emergency heating for the upcoming weekend. I volunteered to take her.
She was a widow and a senior citizen and, for reasons still unknown to me, her granddaughter was also living with her. An electric heater was being used to heat the living room and from the bedding I saw there it was clear that's where the two were sleeping. When the interviewer at Social Services asked her why she hadn't used her social security to pay for the heat, this woman, who was mortified and embarassed to find herself in this situation, replied that she had to make a decision between paying her property taxes and getting heat--and she chose to pay her taxes.
In these hard economic times I doubt that this situation is unique. Respite from the undue burden of ever-increasing property taxes can only come from the school districts, and not at the expense of school programs. The only way to do this is to renogiate contracts. And the only way that the districts will pay attention to the needs of the community as a whole is for more people to get involved and speak up.