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NYSSBA: Governor Is Right, We Need a New Approach

Submitted by The New York State School Boards Association

In his first State of the State message, Gov. Andrew Cuomo hammered on a message that school boards have long championed – curtailing the state’s burdensome mandates in order to control property taxes and spending.

“New York’s elected school board members cannot think of a better time to finally allow local districts to operate free of outdated and burdensome state constraints,” said NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer. “Our schools and property taxpayers need relief from externally imposed mandates that unnecessarily drive up the cost of providing a sound education.”

Kremer noted, however, that no amount of mandate relief would offset the devastating effects of a property tax cap coupled with a state spending cap.

“To impose a ceiling on local revenue as state aid is pulled away leaves schools with no option other than to gut their programs and personnel,” Kremer said.

NYSSBA President Florence Johnson, meanwhile, said school board members will embrace the governor’s call for incentivizing local consolidation, contracting for services with neighboring districts and BOCES, and sharing facilities, teachers, and other resources.

“The governor is right to say that we need change and we need it now,” said Johnson, a member of the Buffalo Board of Education. “We must remove the barriers and wasteful impediments to savings for our taxpayers. The efficient operation of our schools has been hampered, rather than helped, by Albany for too long.”

The New York State School Boards Association represents nearly 680 school boards and more than 5,000 school board members in New York.