Sorry to be missing in action -- budget season is upon us, and I've been writing posts for the Irvington Parents Forum.
The Forum has also had an interesting discussion of kids learning Mandarin Chinese, including an email from a mother who is living in China so her daughter can learn the language. I'll get links posted as soon as I've read everything.
For New Yorkers and anyone else who is interested in school funding:
Per pupil spending $28,517
Why the tax cap passed in New York state
Pension contribution rises 37% for 2013-2014
New York State School Board Association opposes Triborough Amendment
English Language Arts scores
The insanity in my state is that a school district can have nearly $30K per pupil funding and still be laying off teachers, cutting programs, laying off more teachers, threatening to cut French, Latin, and Greek, threatening to cut French, Latin, and Greek again, etc., etc., on and on.
Each and every year since the crash, we have a budget crisis: the same crisis, over and over again. It's like Groundhog Day, only not fun.
The reason we have a budget crisis each year without fail is that the budget is capped, but the contracts are not. The cap is 2%, but our contract calls for roughly 4% annual increase in compensation, and 4 is not 2. Plus pension payments will rise by 37% next year, and tax certs are through the roof (nearly $2 million this year, assuming I'm reading the Powerpoint correctly). Apparently tax certs always will be through the roof, forever. So we have a crisis.
Surreally, the solution is simple, but impossible.
All of our problems would be over if the union simply agreed to index raises to inflation. But that option is unthinkable.
The 4-is-not-2 dilemma is unthinkable even as a description of the problem. Instead of "labor costs are too high," the problem is understood to be Cost Escalation Beyond Board's Control.
Pension contributions! Health insurance! Special ed! Mandates!
True enough, all these things are expensive, but "mandates" obscures the fact that the only mandate that matters, and the source of our woe, is the Triborough Amendment. And that is here to stay.
So we are living in the land of zero-sum, where 4% raises for some mean lay-offs for others.