ALBANY - The New York State Association of School Business Officials recently surveyed school districts on their property tax report card data submitted to the State Education Department and data indicates school spending statewide is expected to rise a modest 3.12 percent if approved by the voters on Tuesday, May 21.
Spending increases in 2012-13 averaged 1.47 percent during the first year of the tax cap. Levies statewide are projected to increase 3.03 percent this year, compared to 2.27 percent in the 2012-13 school year.
"Given that many school districts have been cutting staff and programs over the last few years, and given a recent re-interpretations of the tax levy limit carry over provision, we expect more school districts will utilize their full levy limit under the tax cap this year," NYSASBO Executive Director Michael J. Borges said.
More troubling is the ongoing drain on school districts unrestricted fund balances, which declined on average statewide by approximately 13.8 percent last year and are expected to decline an additional 8 percent this coming year. These unrestricted fund balances are used to plug holes in school budgets to prevent layoffs and further degradation of academic programs.
"Once school districts exhaust these fund balances there will be nothing standing between them and fiscal or educational insolvency," Borges said. "The 4.7 percent increase in state aid in the recently enacted state budget was a welcome development, but it only slows and not cures, the ailments plaguing our school districts. Without addressing major cost drivers like health insurance, workers compensation and special education, the fiscal and educational integrity of our schools will continue to be undermined."