So now we have towns like Irvington where you can buy a simple raised ranch on a half acre for $600K and pay $21,757 a year in taxes to pay for schools that use curricula like Everyday Math. [ed: Not even. We've got Trailblazers.] I had to double check that tax assessment. How about a split level on a quarter acre (on the market for $800K) with taxes of $27,150.Our taxes doubled in 10 years' time with no measurable gains in student achievement. Curriculum quality significantly declined during that period (e.g.: Trailblazers, Fountas & Pinnell). Teacher quality may have declined, too (I don't know), given that the district stopped hiring teachers with experience because teachers with experience are too expensive. For over a decade, the district has hired only first-year teachers, nearly all of whom have been given tenure regardless of parent opinion.
The new union contract, signed this year, provides around 4% annual overall increase in compensation. Twice the rate of inflation.
Average teacher salary - base salary - is now $100K. Add in pensions, which taxpayers fund, and average salary is around $120K (if not more). Meanwhile, average household salary in Irvington -- household, not individual -- is $117K.
We have two choices this year and every year going forward: layoffs or a 60% vote to override the cap.
The third possibility is to persuade the union to accept compensation increases indexed to inflation. As far as I know, I'm the only person in town who thinks that's an option. The only person at present, I should say.
I can't tell how things will play out.
At this week's BOE meeting, 100 parents and high school students lined up to protest cuts.
No one lined up to protest the contract that put us in the position of having to make these cuts. Union negotiations are conducted in secret, and when the new tax-cap busting contract was finally agreed to, after years of negotiations, it was hailed. In fact, the new contract is less rich than the old contract, so that's what everyone focused on.
Cuomo's tax cap is an interesting law.
Second, the school board is taking a bit of a risk by putting forward a budget that breaks the tax cap. If the board does not get a 60% majority, it has one more chance to put forward a budget. If that budget also breaks the cap, and also fails to attract a 60% vote, the district then goes to zero: NO increase from the previous year's tax levy at all. Instead of 10 FTEs cut, suddenly you're looking at 20.
No one wants cuts, and no one wants to talk (out loud) about the union. (Everyone talks about the union sotto voce.) So what will happen?