Last Tuesday, the 342 people who bothered to vote on the Hudson City School District budget proposed for the 2023-2024 school year approved the budget 258 to 84. Most property owners were probably just grateful that their school taxes weren't going to be increased as they typically have been each year.
Last Thursday, E. J. McMahon of the Empire Center for Public Policy published an article about spending for education in New York State: "NY spending again led US, hitting all-time high in 2020-2021." McMahon reports:
Public elementary and secondary school spending in New York rose to $26,571 per pupil in 2020-21, according to the latest Census Bureau data--setting a new record high even as pupil performance was falling amid the disruption of in-person learning due to pandemic restrictions.
New York's K-12 spending once again topped that of all states and the District of Columbia--fully 85 percent above the national average of $14,347 per pupil. In dollars-per-pupil terms, the education spending gap between the Empire State and the rest of the country has more than tripled over the past 20 years. . . .
With 1,591 enrolled in HCSD schools, the $54.5 million budget for 2023-2024 works out to $34,261 per student. That is more than twice--139 percent above--what the national per-pupil average was in 2020-2021.
COPYRIGHT 2023 CAROLE OSTERINK
"Shocker" - said no one ever. With that type of cost, you would assume that results will follow along. Any data on that?ReplyDelete
The problem, it seems isn't with "fuel" (the budget) but with "friction" (alluded to in "Wowser's" note, below. If money alone could solve HCSD's problems, the problems would be toast. Clearly money isn't the solution.Delete
What's needed is an understanding of, and a strategy to deal with, the conflicting pressures and expectations on the various groups (students, their families, the teachers and the staff) so that the outcomes (functionally literate and numerically proficient humans) meet the needs of our society within a rational and sustained budget. Simple, right?
But the friction-inducing elements -- layers of entrenched contractual entitlements -- are obviously significant. The entire district needs to be re-thought, re-envisioned and re-started. Until then, just expect more of the same -- just at a higher financial and societal cost.
For a real eyeopener, go to See Through NY and search payroll data for Hudson City School District. This data is from 2022 but check the number of personnel making over $ 100,000 a year. https://www.seethroughny.net/payrolls/schoolsReplyDelete
Yeah, but teachers making over $100k varies greatly. 13% in Hudson make over $100k. At Rondout Valley in Ulster it's 25%. At Taconic Hills it's .06%. I don't think that's the root cause.Delete
Probably not the best tree to bark up...Delete
all state agencies get incremental raises over time. Those salaries over 100k are usually administrators and teachers who have been in the district forever. Example: My 2nd grade teacher in 1992 is still teaching in the district and is just now making over 100k and you know what? She deserves every penny.
"The budget proposal calls for spending 20% of the $54.5 million on Regular School Teaching Salaries, 23% on Employee Benefits, 16% on Programs for Students with Disabilities, 9% on Debt Service, 7.5% on Transportation, 5.3% on Operation and Maintenance of Plant, and 19% on other items." How is it that more is spent on Employee benefits that on teacher salaries? Is it health care? retirement benefits? health insurance? Basically this says (roughly) that if a teacher is being paid $50,000 they are receiving $55,000 in benefits?! HUH!?ReplyDelete
The large percentage of the budget devoted to benefits is because healthcare benefits for retired faculty and staff is the responsibility of the school district. Pensions are paid through the NYS retirement system, but health insurance for retirees is paid for by the school district. The amount is not only benefits for the current faculty and staff but also healthcare benefits for all retired faculty and staff.Delete
Thanks for that explanation Carole. So let me get this straight: all retirees get full healthcare benefits for life? I've heard of COBRA, but that lasts only a few months I think. What genius agreed to offer lifetime healthcare benefits for retirees? I guess these people are also getting SSI benefits, Medicaid/Medicare too? Great gig! Where do I sign up?Delete
The problems of educational levels and taxation blasts from the HCSD are not fully explainable, partly because it is all infuriating. And how utterly ridiculous to lose a Superintendent after a few months. I don’t know Lisamarie personally but her strategic plan was quite innovative and is recommended reading. Certainly, the BOE must have been involved in creating it so have them send it to you. Like it or not, it was a better effort than was given by the previous team of self “job protectors” and money wasters.ReplyDelete
Though we may complain now, post COVID, the money was flying out the windows before the pandemic. And no one is being held accountable. The finance meetings of the school board are open to the public as are all committee meetings. And unlike the Soviet-style full BOE meetings, there are no rules or time limits on questions you can ask. Just plunk down and jump in…..it is fun, to a point. Until they start speaking in code. The problem for me was they never wanted me in the meetings so they never told me when they were being held, which is a statutory requirement. Ask and ask again.
BUT, like with Lisamarie, I would hope we can give this BOE and Willette a chance. But for that to happen I think Willette needs to personally approach the community of people who are terrified about the state of the HCSD. That would be new and welcome. Hiding behind microphones and PowerPoints with no point is pointless now. There are many smart and good people involved with the school now. Let us work with you.
Mr. Friedman is right. The whole thing needs to be re-thought and re-imagined. Fairness is the first thing. We should pay our taxes with the expectation that the system will work. Secondly, students need to learn, graduate, earn and enjoy. We need a pact with the District on this.
But where are the handlebars? Where do we grip at something tangible that might lead us in that direction? I would suggest four things: 1. That outgoing Supt Spindler be allowed to give a community address with Willette on the way forward. 2. That the BOE then launch a community outreach program far different than past campaigns. Make them come out to the community and tell us the vision. Then put the selection of the new Superintendent up to District vote. ANNOUNCE IT NOW. CHANGE UP THE GAME. PUT US IN THE GAME. Put up 3 candidates with full and substantial platforms. Give everyone a stake. If the vote tally is less than 1,000, you revote it. 3. The President of the BOE should give a District-wide address on where the school district is headed with the promise that BOE members are putting skin in the game of the kids. 4. Make everyone involved, from admin to teachers etc, pledge intolerance to the status quo. Make the vote and names public. This is not unreasonable. To ask for less is negligence.
It is sad that the psychotic cycle of tax/overtax/tax again/spend more/promise more and under-deliver YET AGAIN is still in play. It seems, as I have warned, we have a school district without a community or a satisfied tax base and that is an explosive mixture, especially when it involves young learners.
Willete, no one is happy. And no one is enjoying this show. Please initiate a dialogue that goes beyond the norm and set up a District vote on the new Super. Let us help re-imagine the plan and let us be serious stakeholders with the BOE in the future before it is too late. Ken Sheffer
God bless Ken for caring, but he is all wrong about Dr. Spindler’s “strategic plan [being] quite innovative.” It is anything but. It is recycled social emotional learning pablum dressed up to look like curriculum--and it doesn't work. The district was beginning to make progress on the academic front under Dr. Suttmeier – check out the Core Knowledge Language Arts (CKLA) and AVID programs – as well as our junior journalism program – in the K—5 grades at MC Smith for a taste of what fact-based learning can do for literacy, for even our most challenged kids. In 2018, School Life News helped that years 150 fifth graders improve their State ELA (English Language Arts) test scores by 11 points! It is of course important to respect children and their demographic and personal challenges – including poverty and race -- but we do them no favors by not delivering an academic program that is the best money can buy and offers them a chance to go to college if they want to. Unfortunately, Spindler’s plan offered none of that. Let’s hope the school board understands the mistake it made and finds someone who knows how to spell curriculum.
I think Pete is Peter Meyer....if so, hello. All I know is that more input, the better. Combine ideas from those who know or care. Graduation day is very near.......the timing is perfect for everyone to contribute, congratulate the students, thank the teachers and BOE and then try to start from a positive re-think. We have good people now. There may not be a plan but there is hope now. Ken ShefferReplyDelete
Yes, Ken, that's me (I don't know where Google got "Pete"). To paraphrase my mentor E.D. Hirsch, we have lots of good people in our schools (including Hudson), but we also have lots of bad ideas. We need leaders who are devoted to finding the good ideas, the ones that work for kids. They're out there! --peter meyerDelete