A new survey of 403 school districts in New York state finds that they have made cuts in numerous areas, including transportation, to keep their budget proposals for the 2012-13 school year within the state’s new property tax cap.
The findings were released by the New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA) and the New York State Association of School Business Officials (NYSASBO).
Based on responses to the survey, the groups estimate that those 403 districts will eliminate a total of 4,263 positions, including both teachers and non-teachers, in the upcoming school year.
The survey indicated that 30.9% of districts will curtail pupil transportation, leading to longer bus rides for students.
“School leaders are taking extraordinary steps to keep their budgets in line with the tax levy cap,” NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer said. “They are negotiating salary freezes, sharing administrators and outsourcing services. But that isn’t always enough.”
Michael J. Borges, executive director of NYSASBO, added that the survey indicates that school districts have complied with the spirit of the tax cap, “unfortunately to the detriment of their educational mission and financial stability.”
In addition to cutting personnel, programs and services, nearly all districts (99%) plan to use reserve funds to minimize their 2012-13 tax levies.
To help schools reduce expenses and stay within their tax levy limits in future years, school boards and business officials are calling on lawmakers to enact three mandate relief measures before the end of the current legislative session.
One measure would repeal state requirements for school districts to pay employee salary increases after a contract has expired, the second would allow schools to use national procurement cooperatives and the third would eliminate state special-education mandates that are deemed "excessive."
A report outlining the results of the survey is available here.