According To The Rauch Foundation click for survey. 56% of Long Islanders said it was somewhat or very likely they could leave Long Island in the next five years. 85% state property tax increases are a serious problem and 67% believe Teacher-Administrator Salary and Benefits are the reasons behind school tax increases.
A primary need in this State is to relieve the property tax burden mainly caused by school district spending. Shifting the source of revenue from property taxes to income taxes does nothing to stop the spending. Educational reform requires continued excellence in student achievement while significantly improving the efficiencies in the delivery system. That means reducing school costs. It emphatically does no good to try and dodge that bullet by diverting attention to from which pocket the money comes. To allow the present situation to continue will stagnate any efforts to reform and improve education for children
Money talks. The source of the problem lies in the restrictive legislation passed in Albany at the behest of special interest groups to the detriment of the taxpayer. The Legislature and the Department of Education is subservient to the extensive and continuous lobbying of special interest groups. In addition school administrators and trustees have often failed to disclose to the public accurate and transparent data relating to budgets and bonds. Legislation, similar to Sarbanes-Oxley, which mandates severe penalties, is needed to restore confidence in an educational system that has become unresponsive to the needs of children and property owners alike.
There are several concrete changes that should be made under your leadership
- Allow only one vote on the school budget each year. Education Law Article 41, Part 1, Section 2022, paragraph 4, allows two votes on the budget if the voters reject it the first time. What is wrong with majority rule? A “no” vote under the present system is the equivalent of half a vote, since it can be tested on the ballot a second time. A “yes” vote, however, has full weight, since it cannot be challenged. This is inherently unfair and thus a civil rights matter. Change the law to require a single vote.
- Require that a contingency budget be the same as the previous year's budget. Education Law Article 41, Part 1, Section 2023 paragraph 4, allows a contingency budget that is larger than the previous year's budget by the lesser of 4% more or 120% of the consumer price index change from the previous year, plus other adjustments.
- Having a contingency budget that increases a district's budget by 4% to 5% above a previous budget is no penalty, it sets such a high baseline, that districts are comfortable proposing 10% to 15% increases because the fallback position is still an increase, not a penalty for poor governance.
- Repeal the Triboro Amendment to the Taylor Law as it affects school districts. This amendment requires that the prior contract between the district and various school employee unions will remain in effect until a new contract is signed.
- Revise Education Law Part 4, Article 3012 (c) 2 to limit tenure for any school district employee to five-years duration, renewable upon demonstration of continuing satisfactory performance and educational advancement. Furthermore, teachers who are indicted for crimes should be suspended without pay, and if proven innocent, full salary should be restored.
- Under current law, employees have no incentive to excel, improve, or even meet satisfactory standards of performance once they have tenure. School Districts have no reasonable means to remove poor performers, as does any other business organization. Clearly this can be demonstrated by examining the numbers of teachers that have been terminated in any recent five-year period. It is easier and sometimes cheaper to let unsatisfactory employees “retire in place” while they collect full salary. A renewable five-year tenure period will give district employees a reasonable sense of long-term security, yet allow district supervisors to remove poor performers.
- Repeal the Wick's Law as it pertains to school construction projects. This law requires school districts to hire a General Contractor and three trade contractors under four independent contracts.
- Require that School Districts equally appropriate fund balances or reserves to reduce property taxes when budgets pass or fail.
- Require that School District administrators and trustees declare and guarantee the accuracy and transparency of budgets and bonds presented to the voters and impose fines, loss of pension and or position for failure to comply