Letter to Representatives Regarding Mandate Relief
4000 signatures, I'm told.
Our schools, having grown the numbers of children who 'qualify' for 'services,' now complain that these kids cost too much.
Well, yes. Bad education costs more. Hiring "literacy specialists" to provide Tier 2 intervention to 20% of your grade school population is more expensive than hiring one special education teacher to teach the 5% (or so) who would be struggling if the school used a valid "Scientifically Based Reading Research" program.
But no one's ever worried about that in the past, not that I've heard, and no one's bringing it up today, either. The problem is the mandates, not the teaching, not the curriculum, not the ideology.
Eastchester has misdiagnosed its budget problem, in any event. Eastchester's budget problem is the same as Irvington's budget problem is the same as every other NY school district's budget problem: thanks to the Triborough Amendment, our union contracts oblige us to pay an annual rate of increase in compensation that exceeds the two percent tax cap. The contracts break the tax cap before we even get to budget season, and all the rest is sidebar. But nobody seems to understand this as yet.
Here in Irvington, although some of us do realize that the contract violates the tax cap (a friend laid it out for me), nobody knows by how much the contract exceeds the tax cap. The Chair of the Budget Task Force has asked the question, but no one has answered the question, or even acknowledged the question. What is our projected rate of increase? That is what we need to know.
But instead of being apprised of what our situation actually is, we're told that the new contract is "fair and equitable" for the union and "fiscally responsible" for the taxpayers, with 1.75% "increments" and two new "half-steps" and a limit on "column movement" and the like, and these are all good things. But what it all adds up to, no one is saying. There is an elephant in the room.
The problem is the contract, and the contract is the union, and nobody wants to say boo to the union.
So Eastchester has decided to say boo to the parents of children with special needs instead.