Thursday, April 8, 2010

Mary, Mary...(cont'd)

We went to the Tuesday April 6, 2010 NHCS board meeting that was held at the Perry Jr. High School hoping to get some information regarding the budget for the 2010-2011 school year.

The meeting last well over 2 hours; however only about 3 minutes was spent on the budget prior to the vote of the board. Here is a copy of the presentation...all of 8 slides - two of which are the title page and "thank you for attending" page.

Not much information, eh? We were told at the school board meeting that voters are merely voting on a "spending" plan; the revenue side won't be available until August when the school actually starts to prepare tax bills and the actual tax rate rate is released.


In a related story...

In our travels on the internet, we came across some interesting articles. Actually, the Observer Dispatch reported on this back in March, Schools could get some budget relief with legislative package; however, they left out the most important part.

According to the Observer Dispatch article:

State Sen. Joseph Griffo, who voted for the four bills, acknowledged that there were flaws, but said the bills were a first step.

“Real authentic mandate relief is what is necessary,” Griffo said. “This is a good signal that we are serious about doing something.”
According to Senator Valesky's Facebook page:

“This package of legislation represents our commitment to government efficiency. It just makes sense to give school districts the tools to best manage their resources, especially in these difficult economic times,” Senator Valesky said.
Senator Valesky seems to have forgotten the taxpayer and Senator Griffo might want to call taking away taxpayers' rights to vote "no" on the school budget a "flaw" in the legislation, but we think there may be more appropriate words for such a move. Perhaps both these gentlemen have been politicians too long!

According to a March 29, 2010 article in the New York Post:

The good news for taxpayers in most of New York is that you can lower your property taxes this year by voting "no" on your local school budget. The bad news is that your state legislators are trying hard to change the law -- to fix it so you can't.
According to a March 16, 2010 article in the Times Union:

Worried about a potential wave of "no" votes for upcoming school budgets, the Senate has passed legislation that would make it easier for districts to increase their budgets even if voters shoot down spending plans.
The bill passed the State Senate on March 15, 2010. Ayes in the Senate include:

Ayes (56): ADAMS, ADDABBO, ALESI, AUBERTINE, BONACIC, BRESLIN, DEFRANCISCO, DIAZ, DILAN, ESPADA, FARLEY, FOLEY, GOLDEN, GRIFFO, HANNON, HASSELL-THOMPSON, JOHNSON C, JOHNSON O, KLEIN, KRUEGER, KRUGER, LANZA, LARKIN, LAVALLE, LEIBELL, LIBOUS, LITTLE, MARCELLINO, MAZIARZ, MCDONALD, MONTGOMERY, NOZZOLIO, ONORATO, OPPENHEIMER, PADAVAN, PARKER, PERKINS, RANZENHOFER, ROBACH, SALAND, SAMPSON, SAVINO, SCHNEIDERMAN, SERRANO, SEWARD, SKELOS, SMITH, SQUADRON, STACHOWSKI, STAVISKY, STEWART-COUSINS, THOMPSON, VALESKY, VOLKER, WINNER, YOUNG
The NY Post article further reports that:

By a vote of 56-2, the state Senate recently passed a bill obscenely misnamed the Education Mandate Relief Act, sponsored by Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer. The bill would "mandate" a 3 percent rise in spending by school districts whose voters reject the budget at the ballot box.
Currently, the bill is in the Assembly.

According to the NYS Assembly website:

A10130 Actions:

BILL NO A10130

03/05/2010 referred to education

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

A10130 Votes:
There are no votes for this bill in the current legislative session.
If passed by the Assembly and signed by the Governor, the bill takes effect for the 2010-2011 School Year. However, according to the N.Y. Post article:
The measure was on a fast track through the Assembly until The Post got wind of it. Thank God for the Fourth Estate.
So, if the Post is correct, this bill is not going to be passed by the Assembly...only time will tell.

A note on the message board, Jerry Moore's School talk, says:

The Assembly should reject this bill. Or it should at least insist that every school tax bill sent this fall contain a prominent note: "This tax increase was brought to you by your state legislator."
For the moment, according to the New York State Education website:

Contingency Budget Cap

2010-11 School Year Cap: 0% (Note: The Executive proposes a minimum contingency budget increase amount of zero percent. When any legislative action occurs, we will update our guidance and information.)
So, we guess the question to the New Hartford Central School Board and Administrators is...with a 0% contingency budget cap looming and the possibility that the legislation will not pass; and, if voters turn down the budget on May 18th, and also turn down the second round of budget vote in June (if the school board decides to hold a second round), then what?

Conversely, the proposed NHCS budget increase is 1.16%, but if the legislation is passed "as is", and the voters turn down the budget, a contingency budget would mandate a 3% increase. So how would this affect the New Hartford budget if the legislation is passed and the voters turn down the budget? According to the NYS Education website:

If the budget originally proposed to the voters is less than the contingency budget cap, how is a contingency budget then calculated?

Cuts would not have to be made to reach the contingency budget cap but would have to be made to meet the definition of contingency appropriations. The proposed budget includes all contingency and necessary expenses to operate the school district (see J. Stevens memo at: Annual School District Budget). When the proposed budget is below the contingency budget cap, the contingency budget is calculated by removing all non-contingency appropriations from the proposed budget. Items which are statutorily considered non-contingency expenses are, for example, student supplies, community use of buildings and grounds, certain equipment purchases and certain salary increases. Therefore, the contingency budget adopted by the Board of Education would always be less than the proposed budget. In this situation, the “Contingency Budget” column of the budget notice mailed to all residents must reflect these reductions.

So how would all this affect the New Hartford School budget for 2010-2011? We posed our questions to Mary Mandel, Assistant Superintendent for Business at New Hartford Central School, but she didn't have an answer for us. However, ultimately whatever scenario plays out, it will be a school board decision.

To the State Assembly...RoAnn & Dave are you listening? Do you plan to push this measure through and stick it to the taxpayers?

Budget information...to be continued!

2 comments:

frankly said...

Why do school budgets increase when student bodies are decreasing? It doesn't make sense... :(

Anonymous said...

School budgets constantly increase because of mandatory raises that all staff receive each year. The only way your going to see the budgets decrease or hold constant is to change the way staff members receive raises. Maybe based on performance instead of just showing up each day.