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Letter: Complying with tax cap is hurting our students

Complying with tax cap is hurting our students

A News editorial on the tax cap is ill-informed at best and counterproductive at worst (“Slight increase in tax cap may finally force schools to overhaul their model”).

School boards are indeed struggling with the tax cap. But it’s not because they resist change. It’s because, unlike businesses in the private sector, they must balance financial considerations with a public good – the educational needs of students.

Districts have bent over backward to make the necessary changes to comply with the tax cap. They are sharing services, pooling health insurance purchases and gaining concessions in contract negotiations.

But complying with the tax cap does not come without consequences. Since the inception of the cap, districts have had to eliminate numerous academic programs and thousands of staff.

The New York State School Boards Association, which represents school boards across the state, is all in favor of schools adapting to a changing environment. For example, we support regional high schools that would allow districts to join with other districts to improve student access to academic programs. We support allowing districts to create regional transportation networks. We support using teacher quality rather than seniority in determining the process of teacher layoffs. But guess what? These all require legislation changes at the state level.

I would like to know what “innovations” The News would adopt to find additional savings in the school system. Would it replace teachers with robots? Offer all courses only online? Dispense a new miracle drug to eliminate all learning disabilities?

Timothy G. Kremer

Executive Director

New York State School Boards Association