Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Tax Increase AND School Cuts!

There's a nauseating letter to the Editor in my town's rag.

It defends/commends a $2 million hike in the local school budget (Yeah, in this economy!) as a *job well done* by the school district.

Why? Because:

The Citizens Advisory Committee on Finance (CACF) supports the adopted Manhasset School District Budget of $85,592,098 for the year 2011-2012. The budget represents an increase of $2,079,421 (or 2.49 percent) over the prior year. The largest factors in the increased expenses is a $1,340,620 increase in mandated pension contributions to the New York State Retirement System and a $940,530 increase in healthcare contributions, which by themselves would have increased the year-over-year budget by $2,281,150. The net impact of all other budget line-items was a reduction of $201,729.

The reduction in expenses exclusive of the retirement and healthcare expenses was made possible by the elimination of the Assistant to the Superintendent position and nearly 12 full-time equivalent positions. These steps were made while retaining all core academic, co-curricular and athletic programs with a limited impact on some elective programs at the secondary school.

The adopted budget increase in expenses is expected to be paid for primarily by a $2,065,151 (or 2.79 percent) increase in the property tax levy.

Did you catch that?

They conveniently blame *state pension and healthcare mandates* and further down in the article *cuts in State aid*.

Meanwhile they cut 12 teachers/staff members AND raised taxes!

Now this letter is written by some *citizens* group. Are they independent? Or merely cronies and flacks? You tell me:

The CACF, which is comprised of residents of Manhasset selected by the board of education, is responsible for advising the board on financial matters, specifically on the annual school budget. As in previous years, we note with appreciation the transparency of the budget process, the wealth of financial information made available by the administration and the administration’s responsiveness to CACF inquiries.

The entire letter is pure propagandistic sleight-of-hand.

It cherrypicks all sorts of statistics, focusing on relative tax rates, marginal increases, and spending compared to other towns - many of which receive a whole lot more *State aid* because they are more in need politically connected to Albany.


Here's the bottomline - the Town of Manhasset will spend $26,130 PER PUPIL next year!

I had to laugh at some guy in Ohio, a disgruntled government school teacher, who complained to me last weekend that his district spent *five or six grand per kid*. (Actually it's probably more like 7 or 8 grand.)

So by me keeping my two kids out of government school I save the town an astounding 52k annually, sort of.

And what do they get for all that money?

Well on some stupid standardized tests they show *high averages* - BUT that's because they are NO bottom-dragging urban MINORITIES in town, much like the mediocre yet self-congratulatory government school district of Hingham, Massachusetts - near where I just moved from.

But both of these towns SUCK at educating their best students - at least in terms of test scores and competitions.

How in the world could I possibly send my two precocious children to this school system?

Recall we're a math family here. In fact my 6.51 year old son just completed his study of algebra and is presently beginning calculus and intermediate (HS-level) geometry!

How do the best math students in town here do?

Yeah, how about an embarrassing *17th in the county*. IN THE COUNTY!

Heck my freakin' math team won the ultra-competitive NEW ENGLAND CHAMPIONSHIP and my son is 7-8 years ahead of where I was already. It'd be nothing short of child abuse for my current wife and I to enroll our kids in the local system.

You know what? No one cares about this either. The rich old bastards just continue to pay their escalating property taxes. They don't want to consider the fact that perhaps the schools stink because their kids *graduated* from them. And they probably don't want to make waves politically in town either - lest anyone think ill of them, call them stingy, etc.

And the young people in town fall for the scare-tactics every time - they swallow whole the myths that money has anything to do with education, and that teacher cuts (in pay and hiring) will do irreparable harm to their precious(?) children, and they couldn't be more unreceptive to even the mere suggestion that the institutions charged with raising their kids aren't doing a good job.

See also:

Hingham School District - A Legend In It's Own Town

And be sure to read the post I wrote on Manhasset schools some two years ago - before I ever thought about moving here:

Manhasset, NY - Bloated, Underperforming Schools

The comments on that one are hilarious!

1 comment:

Anne Galivan said...

I'll tell you public employees are burning me up these days. Here in Florida the public employees are up in arms because they are being required to put 3% into their pension funds - for the first time in over 40 years apparently. This money is their money going into their pension funds and they are having a fit that they are having to put 3% of their own money in their own funds.

You know how much my husband and I, as self-employed, private sector, business owners, put in our retirement accounts? That's right, 100%. Which is why our retirement accounts are pathetically anemic. Trying to put money away while raising four kids is quite a challenge.

Also, you know how much we pay towards our health insurance? That's right, 100%. And it's a major medical policy with a $10,000 deductible.

I'm fed up with the whining public employees do about their benefits. They have no clue how the private sector lives and struggles to manage our ever-rising costs.