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Considering our last post, now reflect on this stat. Not only does our county school spending fall into this highest in the nation trend, but in fact many of our schools spending is even higher yet, a full 100% higher than the national average or more! Now you may say we have some good schools in our county, sure, but at what cost considering that the results they produce may be better then some, but certainly aren’t a 100% better than any of them. If you want to go and research what all this spending gets us, sadly you’ll find in most categories that the results are only average.

NY number-one in school spending — again

May 21, 2013 E.J. McMahon
While voters across New York go to polls to determine the fate of proposed school district budgets, the Census Bureau has just released its annual breakdown of public school spending. As of 2010-11, New York once again topped the list, at $19,076 per pupil — a whopping 81 percent above the national average of $10,560 per pupil. The gulf between the Empire State and the national spending average has widened from 63 percent as of 2005-06.

Reflecting an economic and fiscal pinch in the wake of the recession, total public education spending in the United States actually declined in 2011 for the first time since the Census Bureau began collecting annual data in 1977, the Bureau reported. But New York bucked that trend, increasing spending by $458 per pupil, or 2.5 percent.

(more…)

In other news:

Brocton, Westfield OK merger plan  for vote May 22, 2013 Good move as “both sides” overwhelmingly support moving forward.

Bemus Point Budget Fails May 22, 2013 Although close, good for those voters who prevailed. All other budgets in the south county schools passed.

Approved! May 22, 2013 In the north county, all the schools budgets passed. One thing you can gleen from article and the one preceeding, as usual, is what a pathetic voter turn out in most districts for such an important issue.

Now look at this Post-journal Poll results so far today:

Are you happy with the way your school district manages its budget?

  1. Yes 25%
  2. No 75%

How ironic! Guess a lot of you “no” votes didn’t bother to cast a real vote yesterday huh?

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As NYS and it’s counties continue to have some of the highest property taxes nationally, a major component is of course the portion that is your School Taxes. Please vote on your school budgets, we say mostly NO because most of them contain increases, though there are a few we would vote Yes as you’ll see below. We hope you have also looked at Board candidates and where there are choices, that you vote for the best one (that will oppose irresponsibility at the state level, oppose federal intervention and dictates such as common core, and who will support an agenda that truly puts proper education and the kids first, not the unions, not special interests, and not radical social agendas). As for the budgets, consider the following before you vote:

Countywide in 2006 we had 21956 students, and as of 2013 we have 20338 students. This equals an enrollment decline of 1618 students.

At an (2006) average cost of $15974/student, that would equal a decline in spending of $25,845,932.

However, that is not the case as total countywide spending in 2006 was $350,728,170, by 2009 with (unnecessary) increases in Federal and State aid, spending (like drunken sailors) was up to $427,049,005 (note that some of this increase was due to a couple of major building projects such as with Southwestern, but then we must point out that in the same course of events, total debt of $274,351,873 in 2006 had climbed to $322,788,619 by 2009). Our schools systems across the county are almost in as much debt collectively as they are spending.

Since then the public has got wise, cracked down on the school systems, and to a degree gotten some of this spending under control. However, the proposed spending this year is $376,204,605 is still almost $26 million higher than 2006 yet with 1618 fewer students! [Note that we also have the 2% property tax cap now but it’s kind of a joke with respect to the schools. Heck they can raise their levy by 6% and not violate the cap because of all the exclusions they are granted, but we digress as the whole TaxCap issue is another story.]

So what’s to explain this you might ask? We submit it is a combination of a few things we will not be shy about saying: 1- In past years the public school unions have been greedy and out of control, pay and benefits have exploded, contracts overly generous, Taylor laws and Triborough amendments giving them special protections, it has hurt us taxpayers, continues to do so, and we need more reforms therein. 2- The public sector state pension system remains a ticking bomb and a major contributor. Again generous and “guaranteed” benefit are at work and all shortfalls to the pension system are simply made up by cranking up the employer (municipality) contribution rate (or in other words taxpayers are taxed more) 3- We have 18 school “administrations” and whereas the union factor is a part of this equation with respect to some of the administration staff, having 18 administrations in of itself is a problem. Just consider that 18 Superintendents at an average of $125,000/year (Southwestern’s is presently about $155,000) each, equals $2,250,000 in spending, just on 18 (non-union, by the way) people. How about we have one County superintendent for $225,000, saving us $2,000,000/year and we consolidate the administrations overall saving us $millions and millions more. In addition, right size overall staffing in schools to the degree it still needs to be done (some has been done over the last few years), and freeze salaries and benefits for the “tenured” teachers until the playing field levels out (we have some of the highest compensated public school teachers in the entire country). Oh and that pension issue, well the baby steps taken with tier 6 for example are just that, and we need yet more reform. However, now we have this pension smoothing scheme, it is a scam, terribly irresponsible, and it will likely eventually explode that ticking pension bomb we alluded to above.

{Note on highest average teacher salaries nationwide: Please do not let certain folks try to convince you that this analysis or others are skewed by NYC schools data. In Southwestern alone, as of 2010 payroll, there were 30 people making over $70,000/year plus benefits, with 5 more ready to hit that level in the next payroll year. At this level of compensation (for what is less than 52 week 40 hour per week work), in a matter of only a decade these folks are millionaires, on your tax dime!}

{{Source: The current figures were taken from the article below and all other figures / prior year figures come directly from the NYS Comptroller’s Office}}

IF YOU’RE NOT UPSET YET AND READY TO VOTE AGAINST YOUR INCREASING SCHOOL BUDGET (ESPECIALLY THOSE INCREASING BY MORE THAN 2%), THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOU!

School Budget Facts And Figures

May 19, 2013 The Post-Journal Save | Comments (1) | Post a comment |

[OCDB emphasis added – Cost per student]

CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY

SOUTHWESTERN

Proposed spending: $25,857,975 – a .46 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $12,379,950 – a 2.44 percent increase

Enrollment: 1,430 students / Cost per student $18082

Board elections: one three-year term up for election; incumbent William Burk is running unopposed

[Consider: 2006 Enrollment 1609 students, Spending $23,571,756, Cost per student $14649]

FREWSBURG

Proposed spending: $15,506,279 – a 3.35 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $4,982,166 – a 2.1 percent incease

Enrollment: 848 students / Cost per student $18285

Board elections: three three-year terms and one one-year term up for election; five candidates running: Eric Wright, Hannah Hayes, Randall Wiltsie, Janet Black and Jason Ruhlman

CASSADAGA VALLEY

Proposed spending: $19,967,698 – a .15 percent decrease

Proposed tax levy: $5,097,060 – a 1.98 percent increase

Enrollment: 1,011 students / Cost per student $19750

Board elections: one five-year term and one two-year vacancy up for election; three candidates running: incumbent Jeanne Oag is unopposed, Sandra Barker and Daniel Pavlock are running for the two-year term

CHAUTAUQUA LAKE

Proposed spending: $19,535,232 – a 2.15 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $10,806,020 – a 3.72 percent increase

Enrollment: 972 students / Cost per student $20097

Board elections: information not available

PINE VALLEY

Proposed spending: $15,019,537 – a 2.7 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $3,236,080 – a 3 percent increase

Enrollment: 607 students / Cost per student $24743

Board elections: three three-year terms up for election, four candidates running: incumbents are Jo Anne Anderson, Janie Waag and Lawrence Zollinger, challenger is Angelo Graziano

CLYMER

Proposed spending: $9,750,795 – a 3.48 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $3,966,909 – a 2.56 percent increase

Enrollment: 435 students / Cost per student $22415

Board elections: no contested seats

DUNKIRK

Proposed spending: $40,923,396 – a 1.79 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $9,614,516 – no change

Enrollment: 2,030 students / Cost per student $20159

Board elections: one one-year term and two three-year terms up for election; three candidates running: incumbents are Kenneth Kozlowski and Linda Guy, the other candidate is Bridget Majka

BEMUS POINT

Proposed spending: $13,119,825 – a 5.17 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $7,900,064 – a 5.67 percent increase

Enrollment: 772 students / Cost per student $16994

Board elections: two three-year terms up for election, two candidates running: the incumbent is Lisa Allenson and the other candidate is Barry Swanson

FALCONER

Proposed spending: $21,647,772 – a 2.53 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $6,856,116 – a 3.45 percent increase

Enrollment: 1,209 students / $17905

Board elections: one five-year term and one one-year term up for election, two candidates running: the incumbent is Todd Beckerink and the other candidate is Christopher Hannon

SILVER CREEK

Proposed spending: $20,477,618 – a 3.25 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $5,661,824 – a 2.7 percent increase

Enrollment: 1,094 students / Cost per student $18718

Board elections: one five-year term and one one-year unexpired term up for election, two candidates running: the incumbent is Greg Cole and the other candidate is Steven Boothe

FORESTVILLE

Proposed spending: $11,483,188 – a .31 percent decrease

Proposed tax levy: $3,622,430 – a 3.9 percent increase

Enrollment: 524 students /  Cost per student $21914

Board elections: one four-year term up for election, incumbent Bruce Ellis is running unopposed

PANAMA

Proposed spending: $12,198,067 – a 1.66 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $3,461,172 – no change

Enrollment: 567 students / Cost per student $21513

Board elections: two incumbents are running unopposed

JAMESTOWN

Proposed spending: $75,369,680 – a 1.86 percent decrease

Proposed tax levy: $14,641,567 – no change

Enrollment: 5,220 students / Cost per student $14438

Board elections: two three-year terms up for election, three candidates running: incumbents are Joe DiMaio and Patrick Slagle and the challenger is Todd Rushforth

FREDONIA

Proposed spending: $28,754,508 – a 2.99 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $15,079,019 – a 2.98 percent increase

Enrollment: 1,474 students / Cost per student $19507

Board elections: one term up for election, incumbent Roberta Coniglio is running unopposed

BROCTON

Proposed spending: $15,298,333 – a 3.97 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $4,486,946 – a 1.99 percent increase

Enrollment: 618 students / Cost per student $24754

Board elections: two five-year terms up for election; three candidates running: Jim Farrell, Beth Jagoda and Robert Mead-Colgrove

RIPLEY

Proposed spending: $8,370,065 – a 1.75 percent decrease

Proposed tax levy: $2,140,341 – a 4.08 percent decrease

Enrollment: 325 students / Cost per student $25754

Board elections: two three-year terms up for election, three candidates running: incumbent Frederick Krause is running unopposed for one seat, the other two candidates are Wanda Bentley and Paul McCutcheon

SHERMAN

Proposed spending: $8,771,623 – a 1.87 percent decrease

Proposed tax levy: $2,398,032 – a 4 percent increase

Enrollment: 460 students /  Cost per student $19068

Board elections: one five-year term up for election, two candidates running: the incumbent is Emily Kidd and the challenger is Tim Sears

WESTFIELD

Proposed spending: $14,153,014 – a 2.17 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $5,678,406 – a 4.49 percent increase

Enrollment: 742 students / Cost per student $19074

Board elections: one five-year term up for election, incumbent Steve Cockram is running unopposed

  • RELATED, SEE ALSO:

Schools Prep For Budget Votes

May 19, 2013 By Gavin Paterniti (gpaterniti@post-journal.com) , The Post-Journal

Ready to vote: School budgets, board seats up Tuesday

May 19, 2013 OBSERVER Staff Report Save | Comments (4) | Post a comment |

Rotten to the ‘Core?’

May 19, 2013 The OBSERVER Save | Comments (4) | Post a comment |

By DEANN NELSON, Member STTPP

Funds, staff keep shrinking

May 19, 2013 The OBSERVER Save | Comments (18) | Post a comment |

For some, it was an unsettling tone. Cassadaga Valley music teacher John Cross and another 75 residents attended last week’s Board of Education meeting to voice their concerns regarding the elimination of a music teacher position in the district.

“I’ve done everything I can over the last four weeks (to convince the board not to cut music). … I don’t want to go in there and blindside anyone,” Cross said. “It needs to be said. I’ve been around here longer than anyone. I am not a public speaker, a political organizer, or a rabble rouser.”

His sympathetic story is one we hear annually at a number of districts. And Cross is correct. The cuts are not fair. But neither is the expenses associated with the Cassadaga Valley music program.

According to seethroughny.net, three music teachers in the district receive more than $275,000 in salary. Total compensation of the music teachers, including health benefits and pensions, equates to $386,000. That’s about 10 times more, according to published reports, than most professional musicians will earn if they are lucky.

Is that cost sustainable to a school district of just a little more than 1,000 students? Absolutely not. But if you do not hear concessions offered by staff members in the district to add another position, what other choice does the board have?

One option residents have is to defeat Tuesday’s proposal that goes before voters, which would give the board the option of revisiting its budget. The bad news is the board could decide to put an austerity plan into effect, which is 2 percent less than what is proposed and usually adds to the unhappiness.

No district in this county of 17 1/2 is riding a wave of optimism. Enrollments are declining, programming is suffering and expenses keep rising. At least Ripley – the smallest of all our county districts – did something about it. Voters there approved tuitioning their students in grade seven to 12 to Chautauqua Lake. It stabilized costs, lowered taxes and adds opportunities for their students.

What about the other districts?

It is more of the same. Bare-bones plans. Excuses of state mandates and fewer courses for the students.

Which gets us back to the reduction at Cassadaga Valley. It will not get better there – or any other local district in the future. But joining forces, as Ripley and Chautauqua Lake have done, provides some flexibility.

Chautauqua County residents, however, have fought being flexible for years. It is why mergers and consolidations of the smallest bits of government and schools have been defeated over that past 30 years.

We are running out of other choices.

[OCDB, When funds and staff shrink the first thing you need to ask is are you shrinking existing bloat, which isn’t a bad thing. When a bubble has been created you have 2 choices; Take corrective action and Shrink it, or Continue on til it Bursts!]

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