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February, 2013

Vol. 2, Issue 4


Breakfast & Network       

Across the Board

         A Publication of WPSBA

Legislative Sit Down - This Thursday Feb 28th!

We're Bringing Albany to YOU!

     This week's Legislative Forum is your chance to have a table discussion on current education and fiCapitol Bldgscal issues with your NYS legislators before the State budget becomes final in late March. Bring data and examples of potential budget cuts your district faces for 2013-14 due to the tax levy limit, proposed level of state aid and the lack of meaningful mandate relief (Article: State Aid analysis).      


Thursday, February 28th from 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Purchase Elementary School (Harrison Central School District)

2995 Purchase Street, Purchase, NY 10577

Click Here to Register 


The WPSBA Legislative Priorities align with those of our area superintendent associations, the co-sponsors of this forum. 

In This Issue
- Legislative Forum
- Resolutions
- Exec Budget/StateAid
- Rethinking Special Ed
- At Your Fingertips
Newsday Profile
     "One would think from listening to her anecdotes that Lisa Davis should have pulled her hair out years ago....It's the small victories that keep her going, she says...
     For the full  Newsday story, click here

A New Year with New Resolutions

     School Safety issues have been on every board's agenda, but where will the funding come from to implement additional school security measures? WPSBA sent a letter to our state and federal legislators urging appropriate resources and funding for student and mental health services, and the exemption of non-aided safety and security costs from the maximum allowable property tax levy calculation. We encourage every district to tally their projected costs and incorporate them into a similar letter to the Governor, Commissioner King and your legislators. To learn how to access legislator contact info from our website, click here.
      WPSBA urges every school district to publicly discuss and endorse the WPSBA regional resolution on High Stakes Testing as well as FairTest's National Resolution. Want more information on High Stakes testing? You can find Fact Sheet handouts, WPSBA and the National High Stakes Testing Resolution, and other reference materials on our website. 

stateaidThe Executive Budget & State Aid

      As school boards discuss their 2013-14 budget, the specter of another year of cuts and compromises is sure to add fuel to the ever increasing concern among community members regarding what an appropriate, or dare we say excellent, education will look like under the property tax levy limit.

      The reality is that the revenue limitations of the maximum tax levy increase, coupled with the NYS TRS peschool fundingnsion cost increase to 16.5% of payroll and ERS going to 20% (the first 2% of the TRS/ERS pension increase will consume most of a district's allowable tax levy limit), spiraling health insurance costs, APPR expenditures, and pending school security expenditures, to name a few, will again create the perfect storm for our school districts. 
     While WPSBA school districts are slated to receive $28 million more than last year -- the projected state aid without building aid is $598 million -- we are still 6% below the level of state aid in 2008, the year prior to the State freeze of the foundation formula.
     Furthermore, the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA), which NY put into place in 2009 to address the State budget gap by making a downward "adjustment" to a district's state aid, represents a cumulative aid reduction of over $385 million dollars since 2009. While the severity of the GEA has been reduced a bit this year, particularly for high need districts, it will still decrease our 2013-14 formula aid by about $87 million this year. 
    This year, the State is also slated to reduce High Tax Aid.  This will yield an additional $7.2 million aid cut for our districts (2 districts- Yonkers and New Rochelle- will see an increase in their High Tax Aid). Statewide, the High Tax Aid reduction is $50 million, with 249 districts being reduced by a total of $68.6 million, and 62 districts increased by $18.5 million.
     Governor Cuomo touted the urgent need for pre-k, extra learning time and community school programs, particularly in high need districts, yet programs such as these are not appropriately funded in the Governor's budget, and are slated to be distributed as part of $75 million in competitive grants. Critical initiatives such as these should be available for every child in need, not just those who reside in a district with a talented grant writer.
     We also urge the legislature to ensure that the money allocated to the Governor's $203 million Financial Stabilization Fund be used to reduce the GEA and bring districts closer to their 2008 formula aid, rather than individually distributed by legislators through a negotiated formula. The executive budget also includes $50 million for efficiency and performance grant programs (similar to last year's competitive grant program).

      The net additional aid to education is welcomed, but sadly, it alone is not enough to save our schools. Without a sincere State investment in education or substantive mandate relief, districts will be well along the path to educational insolvency and ultimately, to financial insolvency. Public education is not an expense line to be reduced; rather, it is the best possible investment in our future.

Capitol Works
FRN group shot
School board members from Westchester and Putnam Counties traveled to Washington, DC January 27-29 for the Federal Relations Network Conference sponsored by the National School Boards Association (NSBA).  The conference addressed federal issues such as ESEA reauthorization and removing cuts to education from the sequestration.  Board members also met with our  U.S. congressional representatives to discuss these issues.  WPSBA attendees included, from back left: Brett Summers (Byram Hills), Stephen Jambor (Brewster), Judy Wiener (LHEC), Lisa Davis (WPSBA), Richard Kreps (Carmel), Lynn McBride (SW BOCES), and Peggy Zugibe (NYSSBA Area 10 Director).  Front row, from left: Jill Spieler (Scarsdale), Anita Feldman (P/NW BOCES), and  Rosemary Pitruzella (South Orangetown).
 In case you missed it...
     Last month's WPSBA panel on "Rethinking Special Education" warethinking special eds well received by the 50+ WPSBA board members and administrators in attendance. The program addressed an array of issues related to special education services/staffing, regulations and litigation. In addition to enjoying a fabulous dinner which was prepared by the SWBOCES culinary arts students, participants left with "food for thought" on ways to deliver effective special education services that better address the needs of the children. Discussion topics included increased professional development, utilizing a behaviorist approach, using assistive technology, expanded implementation of the RTI model, role of teacher aides, annual audit/review of programs and budget lines, current litigation strategies, developing programs to bring children back into the district and partnering with other districts as well as businesses. We again thank our panel for so graciously sharing both their time and their expertise: Michael Lambert, Partner, Shaw Perelson, May & Lambert; Diane Ullman, Senior Advisor/Consultant, District Management Council; Laurie Bauer, Director of Special Education, Bedford CSD; and Christine Chambers Szafranski, Director of Pupil Services, Carmel CSD.
legislatorlistLegislative Contacts at Your Fingertips...
Looking for a way to contact your district's NYS or US legislators?  Or maybe you'd like to write the Commissioner of Education...or Governor Cuomo...or President Obama.  Well all you have to do is visit the WPSBA website  at www.wpsba.orgto find the latest contact info, as well as links to legislative websites.  That's right. It's all just a click or two away.  Once you're on the website, just click on "Issues and Advocacy" in the left column and then click on "Government Officials."