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Data Drives Discussion As School Leaders Convene

Posted Monday, August 28, 2017 - 10:51 AM

This year’s “Back-to-School” convening of ECASB School Board Presidents, Vice Presidents and Superintendents was an opportunity to explore data provided by incoming ECASB Executive Director Dr. Bruce Fraser, who demonstrated data tools available to school districts through the NY State Center for Rural Schools. The tools provide access to solid data from the NYS Education Department and provide convenient, meaningful graphing capability. Consistent with good board practice, Dr. Fraser said he would be glad to train member district boards on the use of these tools.
Also, as a part of Dr. Fraser’s presentation, he asked the question, “Is PK-12 education a priority in NY State?” Among the points Dr. Fraser emphasized were:
· In 1990, NY State returned 23.8 cents of every dollar raised as revenue back to school districts for support of educational programs and to keep local property taxes low. That figure had shrunk to 19 cents of each dollar by 2015-16. Further, in 1990 NY State’s commitment exceeded the fifty state average by 1.3 cents per dollar. The portion of NY State revenues returned to NY’s local school districts has now fallen below the national average.
· NY State pays a relatively low percentage share of the $65 billion dollars spent on PK-12 education, again, leaving local school districts to bear the highest share of this cost. With our 670 local school districts having wide disparities in property wealth and income this results in wide variation in educational opportunity, student outcomes and local tax burdens.
· Finally, Dr. Fraser noted that since the 2009 recession, NY State total expenditures from state funds (excluding Federal aid) had increased by $21.1B. Over the same time period State Aid and STAR funds sent to local school districts had risen only by $2.9B. The net results, “at the margin” are that only 13.7 cents of each dollar in new revenue since the 2009 recession have been directed back to local school districts. Two graphs that showed the impact on the Sweet Home district were examined. These graphs indicated that when state aid paid a smaller portion of district costs local property tax caps spiked.
Selected slides from Dr. Fraser’s presentation are available at this link.
In his message Dr. Fraser indicated that the Gap Elimination Adjustments imposed by NY State had given diverse Erie County school districts a “galvanizing” and unifying message. The evening’s presentation was concluded with a question that we hope can unify school districts across WNY with the message, “Why isn’t our partner, NY State, paying 50% of the cost for providing PK-12 education?”

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