Thursday, October 28, 2010

Four-Point Program

The Statewide School Finance Consortium has put forth a four-point plan, which they have shared with all candidates for state office:
1. The State must freeze wages for all public school employees when state aid is frozen or reduced. Only the State Government has the power to enact this measure. No individual district can impose a wage freeze.
2. The State must cap the amount a school district can spend on health insurance and require employees to pay a larger share of their health insurance costs. School districts cannot sustain costly contract provisions for salaries and benefits that were negotiated many years before and which they cannot reduce under the provisions of the so-called “Triborough Amendment”.
3. The State must enact a new major pension reform and require public employees to contribute significantly more toward their pensions. The State requires school districts to participate in the Employee and Teachers retirement systems and they have no control over the cost of those benefits.
4. The State must reduce the costs of special education by bringing New York’s regulations into conformance with federal guidelines. These skyrocketing costs are beyond the control of local school districts. Only the State Government has the power to make its requirements more reasonable and realistic.
Passing the burden of the state’s constitutionally-mandated responsibility onto local schools cannot continue. Schools have already cut spending as far as they could in order to keep property taxes from rising during this economic downturn. Local property tax increases will simply be insufficient to meet school districts’ rising costs.
If they cannot provide enough state aid for schools to function, then our elected leaders really have no alternative but to enact substantive cost-saving measures.
New York State can no longer pass the buck.

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