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May 2014

Vol. 3, Issue 4

Across the Board

A WPSBA Publication

Two Programs Not To Be Missed! 

Join board colleagues, superintendents and school attorneys for a discussion of current negotiations trends and issues. The program will include several negotiated contract presentations by districts. Continental breakfast will be served. This program is free for our member districts.
Friday, May 23; 8 am - 10:00 am
WPSBA, 3rd Floor (SW BOCES)
450 Mamaroneck Avenue, Harrison, NY 10528 
"It's Not All About ELA and Math Scores;
Creating a Generation of 21st Century Leaders"

Speaker: Jack Zaccara, Exec. Director,
One World Educational Foundation
Thursday, May 29; 6:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Crabtree's Kittle House
11 Kittle Rd, Chappaqua, NY 10514
$54 per person
Register thru your District Clerk

How can we educate and empower future global citizens?  Hear about a regional effort that's become an international venture to develop leadership skills and prepare students for a diverse, interconnected, global environment. 
In This Issue
- On the Calendar
- Common Core 101
- President's Message
- GEA Update
- Governor Speaks
Common Core 101

Lisa Davis offers a primer on the Common Core and differing points of view.


Excerpt:The political and grassroots movements seem to be escalating their efforts, and it is sometimes difficult to separate perception from reality. There is anecdotal evidence of the positive impact of the Common Core on children in the classroom, but there are also stories that indicate that there is work to be done... Read More 

President's Message  -- All Politics Is Local

Greetings, colleagues.

     Framed on my desk is a quote from Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan: "Evernullyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts." It remains one of my most treasured gifts from my husband.

     It's a quote I reference often.  And now, when our local decisions are so heavily impacted by state and federal mandates, when public education has become a national domestic policy issue, Senator Moynihan's words carry particular resonance.  The need for informed conversations about the common core, charter schools, PARCC, value-added modeling/ assessment (VAM), data privacy, high-stakes testing, and in NY state, the GEA, property tax freeze, military tax waivers and the education investment credit proposal, to name just a few, serve to reinforce our critically important work to do our very best to educate our membership and our broader constituency.

    We hope you have found our programs this year and our inaugural communications and advocacy toolkit framing the GEA issue to be a useful prototype for how, going forward, we can continue to leverage our collective knowledge and voices to make a difference.

     As we near the third Tuesday in May, another well-known and apropos quote comes to mind, this one often attributed to former Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill: "All politics is local."  Never more true than when we are all encouraging our local community members to come to the polls to cast their votes about the 2014-2015 school budgets and trustee elections.  Here's to high hopes that we all end the night of the 20th on a positive note.

     Thank you to everyone, including our valued WPSBA office team, for your tremendous work on behalf of the approximately 177,000 students we represent in Westchester and Putnam counties!


Susan Elion Wollin

WPSBA President

GEA Update

     WPSBA school districts really stepped up to the plate regarding the Elimination of the GEA and the restoration of school funding. Thirty four area school districts passed a GEA resolution, and in doing so,  they had a public discussion of the issue at the board table.

     The WPSBA GEA Toolkit has been touted as a very informative, user-friendly tool, and we plan to design similar kits to help you advocate for key issues in the future. The final legislative budget included an additional $12 million in GEA restoration for WPSBA districts versus the Governor's proposed budget. We are proud of our advocacy efforts and partnerships.

     As you may know, WPSBA is using voterVOICE , an online grassroots advocacy system, to quickly send electronic letters to government officials in Albany and in Washington DC regarding critical, timely issues. WPSBA creates the issue-based campaign including customizable email text so that you can add data or comments that relate to your own district's situation. Our online "Eliminate the GEA campaign" had 1,170 senders totaling 11,853 messages sent to various legislators over a two month period. And in the course of just five days, you sent 513 messages to Albany legislators and the Governor regarding the NYS budget deliberations and the need to fulfill their constitutional and financial obligation to make public school districts the education priority. Now that's local advocacy at work!

Governor Speaks in Westchester

    Governor Cuomo minced no words when he spoke about local governments and property taxes at his Westchester County Association sponsored speech on April 9th. Why are local property taxes so high? According to the Governor, there are too many governments and these local goverCapitol Bldgnments (aka school districts) are unable to control their spending.  There was no mention of the State imposed unfunded and underfunded mandates, the push-down of costs onto local municipalities or the regulations that impede local decision-making. In point of fact, Westchester and Putnam school districts averaged a 2% increase beginning in 2008, two years before the tax levy limit went into effect.  However, the Governor insists that the tax levy was the only way to curb our (local government) appetite for raising taxes, and his new Five Year Tax Freeze plan is the only way to get us to merge and/or cooperate and share services together. (Yet we know that we've been focused on shared services/functional-consolidation measures for quite some time). The Governor said he is going to use "the power of the democracy and the voters" through the tax freeze to force our hand, but I'd suggest that the annual school district budget vote and the election of board of education members have long been the purest forms of local democracy around.  While the pundits are focused on the high rebate checks that regional taxpayers are likely to see in their mailbox just before the November election (limited to those with an income under $250,000), the fact that this corresponds to a levy that represents a high percentage of our school budget, is lost in the rhetoric. Furthermore, the talk of a 1% annual cut in the levy starting in year three ignores the fact that it will mean close to a 1% budget cut for those districts that rely primarily on the levy for revenue, whereas for many other districts it will only amount to the fraction of 1% that the levy limit represents in their budget. Food for thought...

    Oh, and did I mention that the Governor stressed that education is a priority?

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