Our audited financial statements show that we are spending close to $30K per pupil. Thirty thousand dollars is the cost of tuition at a private school – and far more than tuition at a parochial school – but we are not providing a private school education.
My goal is to give all of our students a college preparatory K-12 education equal to that offered by the best private schools in the country.
Given the fact that the district doubled spending over the course of a decade with no change in student achievement, I do not believe more money is the answer.
At this point, in fact, I believe that our rate of spending actually threatens our ability to improve. The 2006-2009 contract locked us into annual spending increases that are simply unsustainable. We have borrowed to pay tax certs, we are deferring maintenance, our healthcare and pension costs are soaring, our ability to keep the Main Street School open is threatened – and in the midst of severe financial stress to the district, our teachers and administrators have been receiving raises well above the rate of inflation.
We need to scale back total compensation to a level we can afford. Unfortunately, New York State labor law severely limits our ability to persuade the union to make concessions of any kind. That is why, in my view, it is so important for board members to take a strong public stance on the budget.
Instead, a BOE majority will likely adopt a budget requiring a 4% tax hike – which will become the base for another tax hike next year. In any given year, one can argue that a 4% hike is doable. The problem comes when you look at what happens to the budget over time.
I believe that we must get spending under control.