BOARD GAMES: Open Letter to the Board of Education

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BOARD GAMES: Open Letter to the Board of Education

December 15, 2012 - 19:09

These comments were made publicly at the December 4th Board of Education meeting.

I cannot express enough my disappointment and frustration with the Board over the way it has handled the CAC. The prior committee produced a report that was widely praised by both the community and the Board of Education. There were suggestions in the report that could shape the budget presentation (both in content and design) as well as ideas for cost savings in the near term and the long run.

Yet despite the praise and the publicly stated desire of the Board to have this activity be meaningful, there has been no follow-through whatsoever. I might remind you that you called me to volunteer my time in this effort and I took the request very seriously, putting in many hours of work. I didn’t ask for the task. It took several months before the administration even reviewed the report with the Board, or should I call it a rebuttal. At that review, the level of discourse and questioning by Board members suggested that many had already forgotten the contents of the report. This disrespect of our efforts was nothing short of shameful.

And now you have come back to the table, in late November, to form a new committee. It is too late to get involved with the budgeting process for next year in any substantive way and over the last 8 months you have taken no steps to pursue any of the ideas in the report. Instead, the Board President suggests that you start from scratch, with all new people, and financial acumen not being a prerequisite. I guess on that latter point at least you’ll have good company.

All of this is more worrisome given the sober news provided by our auditor last week. It sounds like rising New York State pension contributions will add somewhere between $4 and $6 million dollars to a structural deficit that I project at roughly $3 million for next year. So that’s a $7-9 million hole we need to fill. The pension piece will be covered by property tax increases outside the tax cap, which suggests a tax rate increase in the high single digits. But we will also need staffing and program cuts. Will you go after busing again or cut into our enrichment programs? Italian CILA is an obvious candidate to start.

In any event, I wish you luck with the next budget because you’re going to need it, since you will have frittered away another year without making any progress in getting a handle on your costs.

Adam D. Egelberg, CFA

There are 4 Comments

Thank you for your comments, time and being outspoken at the BOE meeting. Your ideas make such common sense,are achievable and necessary. how can the BOE not see the elephant standing in the room? I am not sure taxpayers can absorb another 5 -10% hike,with no improvement in education and no attempt at cost cutting. The vote to break the cap has to be 60% in favor (mamaroneck shut down a proposed school budget before the 60% supermajority). Time to awaken the patient, but silent, citizens of NR and send a message to the BOE that large tax hikes won't be tolerated.

Where do you or did you send your children to school?

Robert Cox's picture

Adam can answer that question if he likes but I have my own question for you: How is that relevant?

What difference does it make where a person sends or sent or will send his children to school as the strength or lack thereof of a particular argument?

I seriously doubt that you asking this is meant to be a "simple question" but rather your hope is to "prove" something about Adam's motive based on the answer or that not getting an answer to a "simple question" proves something about motive.

So, here is a simple question for you: having read a well-written article on school budget issues, why is that the only thing you can think to say about is "Where do you or did you send your children to school?

I hope Adam will wait to answer - if he answers at all - until you first explain the reason for asking your "simple question". I expect we will find that is not your mild curiosity but rather some hope on your part that you can argue against what Adam wrote not based on the inherent logic of his article but through some feeble attempt at an "ad hominem" attack tied to his children.

So, how about it?

My children attend school at one of the NewRo public schools. If you or anyone else would like to meet to learn more about the fiscal situation of the school district, please email me at [email protected] and we can set up a prompt meeting.

New York State pension increases above 2% are EXCLUDED from the property tax cap. Because of this, we could see a 7-9% tax rate increase next year and still be "within the cap". That's government accounting for you.