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Fox Meadow Elementary School Principal and Assistant Principal To Take Positions in Briarcliff Schools

Fox Meadow Elementary School Principal and Assistant Principal To Take Positions in Briarcliff Schools

Fox Meadow parents learned this week that both the principal and as...

Art Rublin Completes Three Years of Service on the Scarsdale School Board

Art Rublin Completes Three Years of Service on the Scarsdale School Board

Art and Erika Rublin June 11 marked Art Rublin’s last meeting on the...

Letter to the Editor in Support of Jonathan Lewis

Letter to the Editor in Support of Jonathan Lewis

This letter was sent to Scarsdale10583 by Jyoti Ruta.

Jonathan Lewis...

Choice Program to Move into Scarsdale Middle School

Choice Program to Move into Scarsdale Middle School

Scarsdale Middle School’s CHOICE program has often been celebrated ...

Boundless Adventures: Challenge Yourself and Trust Others with the First Westchester Ropes Course

Boundless Adventures: Challenge Yourself and Trust Others with the First Westchester Ropes Course

For my 40th birthday, (or was it my 29th?) I wanted to do a high ro...

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Take NYS Public School Education with a Grain of Salt

The cacophony over what to do about public school education and when to do it and how to do it… is deafening. The disconnects have run absolutely wild.

In Washington, President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan propose changes to No Child Left behind, some good some bad; National educational standards are proposed; Diane Ravitch (the former spouse of NY's Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch), once a major champion of choice and accountability recants: http://bit.ly/cxImQ3; business and thought leaders such as Bill Gates bemoan the quality of education in the US and the quality of output; and California pink slips 36,000 teachers; school budgets across the country are decimated; the charter school fight rages on and on in New York siphoning scarce tax dollars to create select public school enclaves that are free to ignore the state mandates and labor rules by which the rest of the public school system must abide. Teacher bashing ensues unabated on editorial pages and in Newsweek: http://bit.ly/9H6U3T. In New York if the Governor’s and New York State Senate's proposed budget is approved, over 15,000 teachers are slated to be laid off statewide -- with no plan or regard as to what impact that will have in the classroom. Many school budgets being devised by school boards and administrators throughout New York State appear by and large to be coming in at or below 2% over the previous years' budgets. Given the cost drivers school districts must deal with, that's pretty damn good. There is plenty to argue about regarding what ails our educational system -- but in New York, much of the blame lies in Albany -- and the legislature's symbiotic relationship with those who first and foremost put the blind protection of public employees over students.

Yet even in our own dysfunctional New York State -- a rare bit of thoughtfulness and sanity is peeking through -- courtesy of a 25 year veteran of the New York State Senate, Suzi Oppenheimer. It's taken her the better part of a year, but Sen. Oppenheimer is beginning to grow into her role as Chairperson of the Senate Education Committee. Just last week Sen. Oppenheimer sponsored and the senate actually passed legislation to begin to peel back the rampant growth of unfunded mandates on school districts. To be frank, the legislation barely scratches the surface of the need to eliminate reams of existing mandates on school districts. Mandates are among the primary cost drivers that have caused explosive growth in property taxes. The Mandate Relief bill prohibits the legislature from imposing future unfunded mandates on school districts after the start of a school year. This is woefully inadequate -- but like the national health reform legislation – at least it’s a start.

Yet the Mandate Relief bill will likely die in the State Assembly. The reason? A series of laughably ignorant editorials eviscerating a small portion of the bill -- a part of which would have school district contingency budget CPI cap formulations be based on a 5-year rolling average vs. whatever it is year to year: http://bit.ly/ad6Mj8; http://bit.ly/chgLk9. These editorials – blind diatribes without context - have rocked the Assembly sponsor, Amy Paulin to back off: http://bit.ly/9lwbS7. Remember, in New York, the school tax is the only tax New Yorkers actually get to vote on each year (outside of big cities). If the school budget vote fails, then school districts are mandated to adopt a budget that is no higher than the prior year's budget plus the lesser of 4% or the CPI. This year the CPI was less than zero – so school districts whose budgets that are defeated at the polls will be faced with budgets with zero increases – and in the wonderful world of public school mandates and contractual obligations – heads will roll and students will get screwed.

The rolling average proposal makes sense. Most federal, state and local government accounting use multi-year averages to manage their budgets. And yes, this year such a computation would mitigate catastrophic school budget cuts. But most districts are aiming at or below 2% anyway -- unlike many towns, villages and counties which are hoisting double-digit increases on the taxpayer without the need for a separate vote. In future years when the CPI will skyrocket due to hyper-inflation -- this rolling average will serve to tamp down the inflationary increases that are sure to come. This is nothing more or less than a proposal for sound budgetary management -- and giving school districts, which always have to operate with one hand (or two plus a foot)tied behind their backs some ability to implement sound budget planning.

But in Albany it looks like nothing will change, mandates will run amuck, employee entitlements will be untouched, legislators will run for cover in what is likely to be an anti-incumbent election year, and...oh yeah, kids still need to be educated so they can race to the top. You would think a crisis would finally knock some sense and responsibility into our legislators. But no. Exhibit A: While Rome burns, Brooklyn Assemblyman Felix Ortiz introduces legislation to ban the use of salt in restaurants -- no joke: http://bit.ly/aP7eaD.

David A. Singer is a former political consultant/campaign professional and political junkie currently toiling as a lawyer in Westchester and managing real estate and media investments.

Good Work

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Choice Program to Move into Scarsdale Middle School

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Scarsdale Middle School’s CHOICE program has often been celebrated for its inherently unique and independent nature. Yet a few months ago...

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Around Town

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The June 26th Congressional Primary Election: What You Should Know

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Let's Get Ready Seeks Summer Volunteers

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Fox Meadow Elementary Celebrates 90 Years

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The 90 degree heat may have forced Fox Meadow Students inside for the 90th anniversary celebration but it certainly did not put a damper ...

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Boundless Adventures: Challenge Yourself and Trust Others with the First Westchester Ropes Course

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For my 40th birthday, (or was it my 29th?) I wanted to do a high ropes adventure course with my girlfriends. We ended up in the Berkshire...

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Letter to the Editor in Support of Jonathan Lewis

Letter to the Editor in Support of Jonathan Lewis

This letter was sent to Scarsdale10583 by Jyoti Ruta.

Jonathan Lewis, a neighbor and friend whom I have known for 10 years, is running for...

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Shout it Out

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Fox Meadow Elementary School Principal and Assistant Principal To Take Positions in Briarcliff Schools

Fox Meadow Elementary School Principal and Assistant Principal To Take Positions in Briarcliff Schools

Fox Meadow parents learned this week that both the principal and assistant principal of Fox Meadow Elementary School will resign to move ...

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A School Graduates 28

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Warm weather and cheerful spirits made Scarsdale High School’s Alternative School graduation an even more special event for the graduatin...

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Accident Pins Woman Between Two Cars Near Greenacres Elementary School

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Argentinean and Italian Cuisine Expertly Combined at Magno’s Grill

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In my restaurant travels through the years, some spots have a special place in my memory. Many years ago I savored many fine meals at Tan...

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Art Rublin Completes Three Years of Service on the Scarsdale School Board

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Art and Erika Rublin June 11 marked Art Rublin’s last meeting on the Scarsdale Board of Education. He was elected in 2015 to serve his fir...

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