Archive for the ‘Schools’ Category

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.


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}}


School Budget Facts And Figures

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

[OCDB emphasis added – Cost per student]



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]


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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 |


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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School Boards Elections and Budget Vote


You know why we need new people in the realm of fiscal prudence, but make no mistake – we need new people to stand up to the radical agendas creeping into our schools everywhere.


We urge you or others you know to take a stand and run, and to get involved and support those that do.

FOR CANDIDATES Petitions nominating candidates for the office of member of the Board of Education can be obtained from the Clerk of your District, are available now, and must be filed with not later than 4:00pm April 19, 2010, at the office of said clerk. Your district clerk will also inform you of how many signatures you need from qualified voters (regardless of party) in your district (in Jamestown it’s 100).

FOR VOTERS Absentee ballots may be obtained, by application, from your District Clerk on or after April 24, 2010, but no later than May 12, if requested by mail. Absentee ballots must be filed with the District Clerk no later than 5:00 p.m. May 18, 2010. If your not a registered voter, you must do so by or on May 4th. (Jamestown holds a registration that day, check with your clerk to be sure of the date in your own district).


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 JPS Board Approves Budget Proposal

April 7, 2010

It is what it is. Jamestown Public Schools Board of Education members had little else to say before voting on a 2010-2011 budget Tuesday — with the five-word comment coming from Joseph DiMaio. The $76.6 million budget was approved in a 6-1 vote during an evening meeting at Jefferson Middle School. Thomas Pope cast the lone dissenting vote. The budget will go to the public May 18. Though $697,435 less than the current year’s budget, the 2010-2011 budget features a 5 percent local tax increase — equaling 85 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The $697,435 figure represents a .48 percent decrease from the 2009-2010 budget. Explaining the district’s budget situation, Daniel “Deke” Kathman, superintendent of schools, said the problem is one of decreased revenues — largely from loss of state funding.

» Full Story

No sir, it’s a loss of one time extra state funding, you as an educator are smarter than that and ought to quit playing word games and hoodwinking the taxpayers! At 76.6Million you’re spending 4.5Million more than 2 years ago, 12.2Million more than 3 years ago, and 18Million more than 5 years ago!

Well isn’t that great, still a tax hike, BUT the budget is $697k lower than last year. Sorry but that is nothing to gloat about. We repeat, over the past couple years you have received Millions in additional Fed and State Aid, for example 06-07 Fed aid UP $2.2M, 07-08 State aid UP $8.6M, and what have you done with it?

Oh the payroll, 08-09 total payroll went up approx $10M, yes 10 Million $. Now you’re whining and can’t do better, well ain’t that a shame. We’ve reviewed the payroll and although Kathman is working for less than Faschano was, Kathman still got a raise from his previous position, and everyone else has gotten raises too. Spending overall has gone up year after year and over the short term as described below, by huge percentages, and they come up with 1/2% decrease. Maybe you all need to forego any raises in pay or benefits, maybe even give some back, and definately you need to get the 100’s of people you’ve added to the payroll, off the payroll. If your people are doing their jobs and working so hard, you should not need all these extra aids and subs.

Enough’s enough, if JPS can’t do what it has to do to come up with a no tax increase budget, then the Voters should join the lone dissenter Mr Pope (and our praise to you sir) and vote down this budget, and as importantly, vote out everyone except Mr Pope!

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In Our Opinion From the Editor, Jamestown Post Journal

POSTED: April 5, 2010

New York’s Division of the Budget offers a by-the-numbers look at state funding of education that perhaps should put perspective on the unresolved questions about how much aid money the state should put in next year’s budget.

These figures should also be kept in mind as school districts contemplate the need to increase the amount of money collected locally from property owners to fund education.

Gov. David Paterson’s initial budget proposal recommends $20.5 billion for school aid, a $1.1 billion or 5 percent cut from this year. But of course the state Assembly appears to be walking away from even that modest amount.

Nevertheless, it’s worth remembering what the Division of the Budget says about the Paterson proposal.

”A look at this proposal, by the numbers, indicates that the vast majority of school districts should be able to manage these reductions without adversely impacting property taxpayers or educational quality,” the Division of the Budget notes.

Here’s the numbers:

Even with the cut, the governor’s proposal represents a 42 percent – $6.1 billion – increase in school aid since the 2003-04 state budget. That increase, says the Division of the Budget, is more than twice the rate of inflation during that period.

Looking back the 10 years before that, to 1991, the governor’s initial proposal represented a 141 percent or $12 billion increase which is, again, more than twice the rate of inflation during that period.

New York’s per pupil overall education spending is $15,536 – 61 percent above the national average.

New York per pupil spending on school district employee salaries is $7,328 – 71 percent above the national average.

New York per pupil spending on school district employee benefits is $2,901 – 109 percent above the national average.

The total amount of reported undesignated reserves held by school districts statewide, which the Division of the Budget points out could potentially be used to mitigate proposed state aid reductions, is $1.5 billion.

New York is going broke, school and other local taxes are breaking the backs of property owners, public employees are continuing to collect raises and enviable benefits year after year. And frankly, we do not see anything in Albany or locally to indicate in any way that the ballooning costs of government will be reined in.

At best we see most of our elected representatives trying to figure out which type of tax and fee increases will have the least impact on them personally come election time.

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NY school payrolls jump, enrollment drops, private sector unemployment at level not seen in decades, tax payers bleed, fiscal crisis rocks nation and the state, Ny property/school taxes some of worst in the nation, Ny deficit at an all time high, Ny spending at all time high, but the teachers unions and administrators keep on bolstering their ranks and taking raises.

Don’t just read this article, read the next 2 entries we previously posted that make all this clear as day. This payroll issue isn’t just happening elsewhere in the state, it’s been happening right here in Chautauqua county!

Report: NY school payrolls jump, enrollment drops

By MICHAEL GORMLEY , 03.30.10, 04:15 PM EDT

ALBANY, N.Y. — A study released Tuesday reported that New York public schools have dramatically increased hiring during a period of historic increases in state aid and local property taxes even while enrollment declined.

The report by The Empire Center of the fiscally conservative Manhattan Institute comes as schools, protected by powerful lobbies, have so far avoided deep cuts during the state’s fiscal crisis while warning that a proposed cut of 5 percent would force layoffs that would devastate education……

“I’m not saying, `Go ahead and lay them off,'” said the Empire Center’s E.J. McMahon. “But this is a system that has not been starved by any definition … let’s get some perspective.”

McMahon said large staff cuts at once would be too disruptive. But there are other ways to cut costs, he said, including freezing raises for a year that an assemblyman recently calculated would save $1 billion, almost all of the proposed cut in school aid.

Unlike other areas of state spending, including health care and social services for the poor, school aid protected by the state’s powerful teachers unions has escaped deep cuts in the state’s two years of fiscal crisis and is in line for a rare restoration of a proposed cut. McMahon called the New York State United Teachers union the most powerful lobbyist in Albany, spending millions on lobbying and campaign contributions each year.

Gov. David Paterson has pushed the 5 percent cut in state school aid, which now totals about $21 billion a year. After consecutive years of record aid and local tax increases, most schools have enough reserves to take the hit, he said.


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Tell your school no way to tax increases, demand accountability!

The schools are now whining and complaining, article after article, about cut backs in State aid and how they now have such dire fiscal problems. Always suggesting program cuts and cuts VS. the kids, now finally we are hearing about cutting positions, but tax increases too !

Too bad the schools have acted so irresponsibly through times of recession, through times of having received record levels of additional Fed/State aid. Look at what they did with it, look at the previous years increase in levels and cost of payroll. Look at the audit reports, for example of Southwestern.

Study this info and then see if you agree with us, that the kids shouldn’t suffer, the already overburdened tax payer shouldn’t suffer, it’s the administrations that should!

So we don’t care how you do it, eliminate positions and cut others, put a wage and benefits freeze in place (and we don’t want to hear any Union complaints, nor administration excuses as related thereto) just find a way to deal with your past misdealings, and proceed forward with NO TAX INCREASES.

History/Context from the Governor and his budget office – 2010

New York public schools spend more per pupil overall ($15,546) than nearly any other state and 61 percent above the national average.

New York ranks first in per pupil spending for school district employee salaries ($7,328, or 71 percent above the national average) and benefits ($2,901, which is 109 percent above the national average).

This reflects a combination of heavy local taxes and significant State spending.

In recent years, during the Wall Street boom, School Aid increased at a rapid and unsustainable rate. Even after the year-to-year reduction to School Aid proposed in the current Executive Budget, State support for education would still have increased by $6.1 billion or 42 percent compared to 2003-04 – twice the rate of inflation (19 percent) during that period.

Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides more than $31 billion in Federal assistance over two years to New York State.

and the schools know this is a one time shot, a temporary measure, so for them to now be calling the end of the program a loss of revenue, or a budget gap, ect., is both disingenuous and irresponsible !



2007-2008 School District Benchmark Comparisons

Source: Office of State Comptroller, with further calculations by the Public Policy Institute, research affiliate of The Business Council of New York State, and the Empire Center for New York State Policy.

School District of Dunkirk City Jamestown South-western Falconer
Local Revenue Per Pupil Total amount raised through local taxes and fees divided by enrollment.    $7,887 $3,881 $8,187 $5,737
State Aid Per Pupil Total amount of revenues derived from State Aid divided by enrollment.    $9,686 $10,913 $7,088 $8,499
Effective Property Tax Real property taxes (total amount of revenue raised through real property taxes) divided by adjusted full value. Adjusted full value represents a district’s full value minus STAR payments from the state.   1.65% 1.33% 1.74% 1.55%
Debt Principle Per Pupil Payments made toward debt principle divided by enrollment.   $404 $1,037 $1,039 $865
Debt Interest Per Pupil Payments made toward interest on debt divided by enrollment.   $149 $411 $921 $489
Operations Per Pupil Total amount of expenditures associated with the physical operations of the district divided by enrollment. This subcategory may include, expenditures for buildings, maintenance, highway maintenance, improvements, snow removal, water services, sewer services, and general school/government support. Per-pupil operations expenditures may include one-time expenditures for capital projects or equipment purchases. This may temporarily increase per-pupil operations expenditures.   $1,286 $4,019 $4,469 $1,667
Administration Per Pupil Total amount of expenditures related to the general administrative workings of the district divided by population. This subcategory may include expenditures for executive, legislative, judicial, legal, educational, and financial operations.   $549 $256 $569 $248
State/Local/Teacher Retirement Per Pupil   Total amount of expenditures for the New York State and Local and Teachers’ Retirement System.   $936 $607 $577 $529
Medical Insurance Per Pupil Total amount of expenditures for medical insurance divided by enrollment. This subcategory may include hospital, medical, and dental insurance.   $1,356 $1,193 $1,686 $1,112
Union Benefits Per Pupil Total amount of expenditures for union benefits programs divided by enrollment.   NDR NDR NDR NDR
Total Spending Per Pupil Total all-categories expenditures divided by enrollment. $18,609 $19,137 $19,323 $14,240

Note: “NDR” means no data reported to state comptroller in this category.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~




2009  2008 
Total Payroll  $10,944,635.58 $8,675,122.89
Number of Persons 303 197  


Location: Home > 2008-09 Enacted Budget > Localities and School Districts  > School Aid

Southwestern School District: Chautauqua County

2007-08 Formula & Building Aid: $10,730,347
2008-09 Formula & Building Aid, NYC EXCEL: $11,911,863
Year-to-Year Change: $1,181,516
Percent Change: +11.01%

Overall School Aid Increase: The 2008-09 Enacted Budget increases school aid by $1.75 billion (8.9 percent), brining statewide total funding to $21.4 billion. Foundation Aid, which targets funding to high-needs districts based on objective criteria of district wealth and student need, will comprise the vast majority of this investment ($14.9 billion) and increase by $1.2 billion (8.8 percent).

~ ~ ~

Open Book New York          
Office of the State Comptroller          
Thomas P. DiNapoli, State Comptroller        
Trend Report for Southwestern School District for Selected Categories
Enrollment 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004
  1551 1603 1609 1671 1750
Revenues  2008 2007 2006 2005 2004
Total 21,444,111 20,080,968 19,241,329 18,798,484 18,718,834
Federal Aid 977,774 813,633 919,138 886,552 836,886
Real Property Taxes (local) 9,472,293 8,959,795 8,405,427 8,177,858 7,905,826
State Aid 10,994,044 10,307,540 9,916,764 9,734,074 9,976,122
Expenditures 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004
Total 29,918,882 24,414,486 22,566,140 22,065,668 20,508,106
Total Debt Outstanding at End of FY $32,972,247 $28,173,506 $28,195,201 $29,361,510 $30,700,498
Debt Service 3,041,000 2,927,860 2,867,274 2,896,018 2,927,802
Education 14,497,709 13,679,743 13,092,113 13,039,275 12,438,476
Education – Transportation 1,031,277 918,653 896,605 747,349 616,984
Instruction 11,559,207 10,829,659 10,283,093 10,643,244 10,284,366
Instructional Support 1,043,566 1,060,201 1,091,174 877,558 831,066
Miscellaneous Education 987 1,535 2,886
Pupil Services 622,547 642,836 603,444 552,857 492,885
Student Activities 240,125 228,394 216,262 215,381 213,175
Employee Benefits 4,566,146 4,217,798 4,034,770 3,754,859 2,985,501
Life Insurance 13,111 12,974 12,767 12,368 11,292
Medical Insurance 2,614,963 2,318,169 2,155,642 1,998,181 1,841,562
Retirement – State/Local 167,173 194,772 228,848 245,472 88,475
Retirement – Teacher 726,879 676,544 636,620 514,707 106,208
Social Security 789,925 762,372 776,896 749,475 732,215
Unclassified Employee Benefits 155,156 143,398 139,580 136,562 72,982
Unemployment Insurance 6,226 17,798 25,894 21,303 42,285
Union Benefits Program
Worker’s Compensation 92,713 91,771 58,155 76,459 90,482
General Government 7,814,027 3,589,085 2,571,983 2,375,516 2,156,327
Administration 881,931 819,898 847,449 526,086 458,254
Operations 6,932,096 2,769,187 1,724,534 1,849,430 1,698,073

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State of New York Office of the State Comptroller

Division of Local Government and School Accountability

January 2009

Our audit was to examine the Southwestern Central School District’s internal controls over selected

financial operations for the period July 1, 2006 to September 12, 2008.

Audit Results

The District does not have adequate controls in place to accurately evaluate the District’s financial condition and safeguard assets. This was evident in the excessive fund balance in the general fund over the last several years; the maintenance of several reserves with no demonstrated need for them; and the lack of controls over certain aspects of information technology and leave time management. The Board has not adequately monitored the District’s financial condition, resulting in the June 30, 2007 unreserved, unappropriated fund balance of approximately $1.3 million representing 5.6 percent of the ensuing year’s budget, or nearly twice the legal limit that a school district was allowed to retain. The surplus has not been used to reduce the District’s tax levy. In addition, the District has established various reserves, which continue to increase; however, District officials did not demonstrate the need for the balances maintained. The minutes of the Board’s proceedings did not clearly identify the Board’s authorization of certain employee benefits. In addition to salaries, certain employees were paid for unused leave time, in the amount of $20,414, without Board authorization. In addition, the District does not have a process for tracking employee attendance and there is no signature from the employee or a manager attesting to the time worked. Further, there is no procedure in place to account for leave time usage and balances. As a result, the District’s internal controls were not sufficient to ensure that employees received only the pay and benefi ts to which they were entitled. The lack of a payroll policy and formal written procedures, coupled with segregation of duties issues, lack of managerial oversight, and insufficient payroll certification could lead to irregular activities occurring and remaining undetected.

[ Fund Balance and Budgets – The unreserved, unappropriated fund balance at June 30, 2007 was approximately $1.3 million, which was 5.6 percent of the ensuing  year’s budgeted expenditures, nearly twice the legally established limit at that time (3 percent). In addition, we noted that the tax levy increased by 5.7 percent or approximately $500,000 from the 2006-07 to 2007-08 fi scal year. Even though approximately $600,000 of the District’s unreserved fund balance was appropriated annually to reduce the tax levy, the levy increased by approximately $1.3 million (more than 15 percent) over the past four years. In addition, appropriated fund balance was not used as budgeted. The overestimation of expenditures contributed to operating surpluses for two of the three fiscal years we reviewed.

The Superintendent and Board routinely overestimated operating expenditures for instructional costs, employee benefits and transportation, and routinely raised the amount of tax levied to meet these unrealistic budget estimates. For the 2006-07 year, instructional costs were overestimated by $674,050, employee benefits by $365,437 and transportation by $143,568, totaling $1,183,055. During the 2005-06 year, these costs were over budgeted by $912,086 and in the 2004-05 year by $607,540. District officials indicated that they over budgeted for these costs because the teacher contract expired on June 30, 2006 and was not settled until April 30, 2008 and because of fluctuating fuel prices. ]

[ Bonded-Debt Reserve — As of June 30, 2007, the District reported a reserve for bonded debt in its debt service fund in the amount of $982,570. This reserve was established during the 2005-06 fiscal year and has not been used since then. District officials indicated that this reserve was funded with interest earned on bonds related to a project from 2001. Such moneys are required by Local Finance Law to be set aside and used only for project purposes or debt service for the related bonds. However, the District has consistently budgeted forthe annual principal and interest payments on the related debt in thegeneral fund,  and therefore levied taxes for this purpose. The failure to adopt realistic budgets and properly establish and maintain only necessary reserves has resulted in the accumulation of a significant amount of resources. Had these moneys been reported as general fund unreserved balance, real property taxes would necessarily have been reduced, since the Board would have been required to comply with the statutory limits for the amount of unreserved fund balance that may be retained at year-end. ]

[ Payroll Processing – … However, there was no indication that the Board authorized the extension of these benefits to these individuals. There was also no Board authorization for any increases in salary that were beyond what was approved in the original salary package or when the employee was originally hired. Since the approval of the salary package, two new positions have been added to the non-affiliate group and two positions have had turnover. When the new employees were hired, the starting salary was stated in the Board minutes, but the benefits  and subsequent increases were not. Nine employees are considered non-affiliates; their salaries totaled approximately $380,000 for 2007-08.

Leave Time – … We tested two non-affiliate employees who retired during our scope period. They were paid a total of $16,288 for unused vacation leave and each had 200 unused sick leave days credited to the Employees’ Retirement System. Although the number of unused leave days used to calculate these amounts agreed with leave time records, there was no Board authority for such payments and there is no procedure in place to ensure that the leave time remaining unused was accurate. ] 

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We pulled the most pertinant excerpts from the report. To read the full report go to:



Total Payroll $39,944,141.57 $29,368,590.14
Number of Persons 1070 622
Open Book New York
Office of the State Comptroller
Thomas P. DiNapoli, State Comptroller
Trend Report for Jamestown School District for Selected Categories
Revenues and Proceeds of Debt 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004
Total 72,162,163 64,468,502 62,261,384 58,605,860 57,290,562
Federal Aid 8,256,004 9,619,517 7,455,349 7,500,171 8,020,086
Federal Aid – Education 6,214,321 7,440,961 5,055,849 5,413,617 6,059,412
Federal Aid – Social Services 2,041,683 2,178,556 2,399,500 2,086,554 1,960,674
Real Property Taxes 9,906,408 9,485,035 8,924,143 8,664,753 8,761,355
State Aid 53,999,751 45,363,950 45,881,892 42,440,936 40,509,121
State Aid – Education 53,985,751 45,334,267 45,848,004 42,365,414 40,508,933
State Aid – General Government 14,000 29,683 33,888 75,522 188
Expenditures 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004
Total 94,602,101 84,357,019 73,429,028 70,275,247 75,105,222
Debt Service 7,162,926 6,502,304 5,686,853 5,495,036 4,166,773
Education 52,240,552 50,280,958 47,882,611 46,049,929 46,323,838
Education – Transportation 1,140,571 935,548 1,282,028 900,456 631,313
Instruction 43,432,175 42,225,494 39,528,852 38,273,810 39,608,379
Instructional Support 5,122,233 4,547,721 4,612,673 4,586,390 3,842,470
Pupil Services 2,028,378 2,078,154 1,972,771 1,840,589 1,829,054
Student Activities 517,195 494,041 486,287 448,684 412,622
Employee Benefits 14,045,496 13,191,688 12,089,349 11,101,205 9,347,076
Life Insurance 51,393 52,303 48,090 54,316 48,744
Medical Insurance 5,903,965 5,804,938 5,058,605 4,526,450 4,631,304
Retirement – State/Local 634,872 710,477 691,819 962,378 152,826
Retirement – Teacher 2,371,991 2,409,502 2,083,443 1,375,465 927,779
Social Security 2,720,532 2,593,099 2,465,863 2,365,716 2,350,184
Unclassified Employee Benefits 2,085,190 1,290,487 1,372,298 1,561,587 927,804
Unemployment Insurance 41,415 62,306 76,227 43,859 110,701
Union Benefits Program
Worker’s Compensation 236,138 268,576 293,004 211,434 196,774
General Government 21,153,127 14,382,069 7,770,215 7,629,077 15,267,535
Administration 1,266,725 1,084,115 1,102,277 1,069,357 1,060,354
Operations 19,886,402 13,297,954 6,667,938 6,559,720 14,207,181

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