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Schoolhouse Rants

The school budget season has come and gone around here, and voters approved most budgets. I believe that's because New York State imposed a cap that the majority of school boards decided not to sidestep. I voted for my school’s budget, because I have few qualms about my kids’ education, plus I appreciated the board’s newly found fiscal semi-responsibility. However, I’m stepping up on my soapbox to decry some of the pressure-tactics employed by the board and the PTA to garner yes votes.


Stop saying high taxes equal good schools, then equating good schools with elevated property values.  Countless home sellers in excellent school districts bemoan the negative feedback they get from potential buyers about their astronomical school taxes.  They can change the kitchen backsplash or trim the front hedges, but substantially lowering their property taxes is a lengthy and potentially fruitless process.



Our high school rated very well in a US News & World Report top 100 ranking, a fact stressed frequently as reason enough to raise our taxes. Yet what wasn’t shared was how many of the school districts that rated higher had substantially lower property taxes on a per-student basis!


The most detestable BS argument of all may be, “The district pays such high salaries for the good of the children.” Really? If homeowners can’t pay their $15,000 property tax bill, but their child is thriving in the school, will the powers-that-be allow them to continue to reside in the house? Oh, no! They’ll place a lien, start running interest, and eventually sell the premises. That’s not good for the child, is it?


Just cut the crap and sell the school budget for what it is, which is funding the flourishing business of education. The kids are just the byproduct, because the system as a whole prospers whether or not they all do well. (Most teachers are a commodity, too, as it’s mainly the administrators who get the big perks and paychecks.)



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 19th, 2012 09:50 pm (UTC)
ABSOLUTELY!!! I live in an area where there are three, very small, very expensive, school districts. My point? Three different ADMINISTRATIONS with all the usual costs!
Two of them moved their administrative offices from the school buildings where they used to be located and had separate quarters built. Two of them vacated the buildings in the last few years and those buildings are now available to be leased.

One of the towns that had its children attend classes in the 2 adjacent neighborhoods. That worked fine for everybody. About 20 years ago it was decided that this town would have its own separate district. The property taxes doubled instantly. I don't live in that district but I still pay just under $30,000/year. More than 20 years ago, houses that were build South of 25A started at $25,000/year property taxes! I cannot even imagine what they are paying today. You are absolutely right; it is the administrators who drain the budget. The teachers and the kids get what's left over.

I may be in a minority re. this perspective, but due to the high property taxes, among other things, parents need to work quite a bit and the schools have instituted before and after school ... baby sitting. The tax payers are paying for this.
In addition, I will happily pay for the education of my community's children but the extracurricular activities offered, ALSO at tax payers' expenses have become ludicrous! When I attended school, in the 1970s, my parents paid for competitive sports, piano lessons, chess lessons and advanced foreign language lessons. The same went for many other extracurricular activities. Schools seem to have taken over all the responsibilities that families paid for in the past. I wonder how this will all turn out. Currently, most of the residents in my community need to earn upward of $50,000/year, just to pay for the property taxes!
May. 21st, 2012 05:15 pm (UTC)
It is difficult to comprehend how -- or why-- taxpayers let all these little fiefdoms flourish.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )



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