Schuylerville district leaders and Board of
Education advocating for change
|Reductions in state aid
|TOTAL AID LOSS
|Loss of district positions
|TOTAL POSITIONS CUT 30.7 ,
which is 11% of teaching staff & 17.5% of Administrative staff since 2010
(nOTE: 4 OF THE 16 TEACHING POSITIONS CUT LED
TO JOB LOSS; OTHERS WERE THROUGH ATTRITION AND
|Tax levy increase
(under property tax levy
Schuylerville Central School District—like school
districts throughout New York—is facing a fiscal crisis. The downturn of
the national economy, coupled with new mandates and the state's tax levy
limit, has challenged public schools to continue to provide a
high-quality education to all students with significantly fewer
resources. As a result, districts are making devastating cuts to
educational programs as they adjust to rising costs that are outpacing
revenues. See the accompanying box at the right
for a review of Schuylerville's fiscal history.
Schuylerville district leaders and Board of Education members are
working to find creative ways to weather the economic storm without
sacrificing the integrity of our programs. Yet without meaningful and
timely relief and solutions from our government leaders, the district is
at risk of losing even more academic programming and opportunities that
students and the community value. To that end, the district has teamed
up with neighboring schools to advocate for education. Efforts include
meeting with local, state and national lawmakers (including Congressman
Owens, Senator Little, former Senator Roy McDonald, Assemblyman Jordan
and Assemblyman Stec) on such priority issues as state
aid, mandate relief and employee benefits. The district is also working
Statewide School Finance Consortium to lobby for change.
The district strongly advocates for the New York State Legislature and
Governor Andrew Cuomo to immediately:
the state aid distribution system to provide for more equity.
remove or refuse to create additional unfunded/underfunded state
the current pension systems and set maximum health benefit
contributions for employers.
Advocacy Priority #1: State Aid
The state legislature and the governor should
reform the state aid distribution system to provide for more equity.
State aid should be based on the actual cost of providing a sound basic
education for every student in a way that fairly compensates for
differences in community costs, needs and resources. The state's current
system of distributing aid (called the Foundation Aid Formula) appears
to be based on need, but funds are distributed based on the philosophy
of making sure every school district gets a piece of the pie. So, in
reality, this means well-funded districts in wealthier communities
receive a level of state aid that is disproportionate in terms of need
compared to less funded districts that would benefit more from aid
(i.e., districts in communities that have less wealth and less ability
Without some reform, districts with below average wealth—like
Schuylerville—will also continue to suffer the greatest negative impact
when the government reduces Foundation Aid Formula amounts. Under the
state's tax levy cap, the less funded districts (with smaller annual
budgets) are less able than wealthier districts (with large annual
budgets) to compensate for state aid losses by raising revenues through
Schuylerville has lost
$2,196,000 in state aid over the last three years.
Wealth Ratio (CWR) is below county and state averages (see below).
When state aid is cut, the
negative impacts on Schuylerville are more pronounced than impacts on
About Combined Wealth Ratio (CWR)
The Combined Wealth Ratio (CWR) is the state's measure of wealth in a
school district. It compares each school district against statewide
averages based on two factors: property wealth per pupil and income
wealth per pupil. The State Education Department has determined that a
school district with average wealth has a CWR of 1. As you can see from
the numbers below, Schuylerville's CWR is lower than state and country
averages. Throughout the state, CWRs range from a low of 0.165 to a high
Central School District: 0.60
County Average: 0.90
Advocacy Priority #2: mandate relief
The state legislature and governor should reform
and refuse to create additional unfunded/underfunded state mandates.
Of the 151 mandates that represent the greatest challenges to districts
in terms of financial burden and required time, 69 percent come with no
funding. New York State also has 227 distinct special education mandates
above and beyond those required by federal law. Some solutions to this
financial problem for schools include: placing no new
unfunded/underfunded state mandates on school districts, exempting
school districts from the Wicks Law and limiting special education
mandates to those required by the federal government. A full review of
the unfunded and underfunded mandates would help prioritize their
effectiveness based on a cost benefit analysis. However, as already
stated, it is imperative that school districts are not burdened with
more unfunded or underfunded mandates.
While mandates increase accountability and, in many cases, improve
educational quality, they can also limit flexibility and impact how
school districts spend money. Mandates not only focus on the education,
health and safety of students but also encompass many other aspects of
daily school operations. Here are some examples:
3-8 and Regents testing, scoring analysis and mailings to
parents/guardians in conjunction with the No Child Left Behind act and
state graduation requirements.
Profession Performance Reviews (APPR) for teachers and principals,
including the creation of a district APPR plan outlining formal
review procedures, criteria for and methods of assessment and how
the district will provide training for reviewers.
education mandates, including Individualized Education Plans (IEPs),
specialized instruction by appropriately certified professionals and
related service providers, Committee on Special Education (CSE)
chairperson and more.
and external audit requirements and reporting, and required separation
of business office duties.
of students with disabilities to their programs (up to 50 miles), of
private school and charter school students (up to 15 miles) and of
homeless students to current or prior district (based on parent
of students to private and parochial schools (up to 15 miles).
to pay for health services and textbooks for students who live in
the district but choose to attend private or parochial schools.
paid employee time off for breast and prostate cancer screening and
of costly graphing calculators for students (required for
intermediate-level and high school math and science tests).
collection and reporting (to the state department of health) of
students' body mass indexes, including screening for eating
plans and reports, including: incarcerated student plans, early
grade size district plans, attendance plans and reports, five-year
capital facilities plans, building condition surveys, special
education space requirements plan, pesticide notification
requirements, school-based shared decision-making plan,
instructional computer technology plans, individual home instruction
plan, district and school safety plans, code of conduct, etc.
About the Wicks Law
The Wicks Law requires multiple contractors on most construction
projects, which leads to higher costs for schools (and the state) when
capital improvement projects are done. Exempting schools from this law
would mean significant savings.
Advocacy Priority #3: employee benefits
The state legislature and the governor should
reform the current pension systems and set maximum health benefit
contributions for employers.
About TRS and ERS
The New York State Teachers Retirement System (TRS) and the New York
State Employee Retirement System (ERS) have three sources of revenue:
employee contributions (fixed), employer contributions (set by the
state) and investment returns on these contributions (based on the stock
market). Both pension systems were established by the legislature, but
ERS is administered by the state comptroller, while TRS is administered
by the New York State TRS Retirement Board. Under the current funding
structure for TRS and ERS, employers have to compensate for any stock
market losses, meaning these benefit costs are subject to a great deal
of fluctuation and uncertainty.
[see related article]
Schuylerville is calling for the state to allow districts to establish
reserve funds for TRS contributions to help offset the large
fluctuations. Such accounts are allowed for ERS contributions. It makes
good fiscal sense for districts to plan ahead for large increases in
pension contributions, just as homeowners can put away money into a
savings account for unanticipated costs. See the chart below for
comparison information showing the differences in the district's
contribution rates between 2002-2003 and 2012-2013.
|teacher retirement system (TRS) cost
||trs cost to district
For the 2013-2014 school year, ERS contributions are jumping to 20.9 percent of employees’ salaries
and TRS contributions are increasing between 15.5 and 16.5 percent. For Schuylerville, this required increase is expected to mean $543,000
in added expenditures. The state should enact immediate reforms that
would make the TRS and ERS pension systems more predictable and
affordable for employers.
About health insurance
In terms of health insurance rates, what was once an affordable benefit
is becoming increasingly unmanageable for school districts due to rising
health care costs. See the chart below for a comparison of costs to the
district in 2001-2002 versus 2012-2013.
|cost to district for health
|Family PPO Plan
|Family PPO Plan
For Schuylerville, health insurance costs increased an average of 10
percent over the last two years. For the 2013-2014 school year, similar
increases are forecasted; this would mean $640,000 in added expenditures
for the districts.
The rising insurance costs are largely a function of the health
insurance industry, and as such, long-term relief will require reforms
beyond the scope of public schools. In the meantime, the state can
provide schools with some immediate, partial relief through such
possible solutions as allowing for the creation of statewide or regional
health insurance consortiums and setting maximum employer contribution
levels for individual and family health care coverage.
Increases in TRS and ERS contributions
and health insurance costs for the 2013-2014 school year alone would
lead to a 7.89 percent tax levy increase.