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Thread: Eliminating school districts

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    Eliminating school districts

    I've been working on this a while but can't seem it get it published.

    Anyway, I thought a comment period would be useful as I have to confess, as a city resident who did not attend public schools, the whole suburban school district running through town lines thing never made a lick of sense to me.

    What am I missing?

    I do know this. Education is one of the largest expenses of state/local government and if we don't get a handle on it, we will never be able to lower our taxes to be competitive with other states.

    **************

    Free New York News Alert No. 14


    Special Districts favor Special Interests

    A Proposal to Eliminate School Districts

    By James Ostrowski

    October ___, 2006

    DRAFT FOR COMMENT




    New York State has too many government agencies employing too many workers making too much money. Some have proposed centralizing government functions into county, regional or state agencies as the best means to reduce bureaucracy. However, historically and in theory, centralization does not make government smaller, just more distant and unresponsive. You end up being ruled by highly-paid strangers in distant capitals.

    The challenge is reduce the number of government agencies without centralizing power or removing local control. For the fourth time, Free New York has found a way.

    In New York State, there are 705 school districts. In Erie County, there are 29 separate school districts, each a government unto itself with elected officials and in most cases with budgets approved at special elections. In the three Erie County cities, voters choose board members but not approve budgets. All these districts are in effect separate governments run by elected schools boards.

    The school boards are chosen in special elections with very low turnouts. Most of the voters have a special interest in the outcome, for example, school district employees and the parents of students. The general interests of average citizens are not a significant factor in these elections.

    The results are predictable: bloated payrolls and some of the highest property taxes in the country.

    Giving voters the right to approve budgets has utterly failed to restrain spending. Again, such elections are dominated by special interests which favor higher spending. On occasions when budgets are defeated, similar budgets are often re-submitted until the opposition is worn down.

    Another deterrent to competitive elections is the artificial nature of the school districts. In 2005, we saw almost every incumbent Erie County Legislator re-elected whereas several incumbent town board members were defeated. It is easier for challengers to defeat incumbents when they are running in their own communities as opposed to special districts which cobble together different communities or neighborhoods.

    The electoral history of Erie County shows a clear pattern: incumbents are most vulnerable in small districts that correspond to organic communities, for example, Buffalo council districts, rather than larger districts which combine different neighborhoods, for example, the Erie County Legislature.

    The present regime allows special interests to use special districts and special elections to control the schools for their own purposes at the expense of the general public which is largely irrelevant to the process.

    We propose to eliminate all these school districts insofar as they constitute separate governments. We propose to eliminate all the elected school boards and special budget elections.

    Under our plan, each city or town will have its own school district. Why elect a board to run the schools when there is already a municipal legislature in each municipality? Responsibility for the schools would shift to the existing town boards, mayors and city councils. Each town board would appoint a superintendent to run the schools on a daily basis. In cities, the mayor would nominate a candidate for superintendent subject to the consent of the council. (This is presently the system in New York City.)

    In sparsely populated rural areas, perhaps towns could cluster together to form a district with each town’s supervisor serving on the school board.

    This alternative system has many advantages. First and foremost, the voters in general elections will elect the policymakers who run the schools. Special interests will be less likely to dominate elections when the turnout goes from 10 percent to 60 percent. All of the costs associated with special elections and with maintaining separate school boards are eliminated.

    Finally, when the schools become a department of the existing municipal government, consolidation of non-educational functions can occur. The existing parks department will replace the groundskeepers who maintain school sports fields. The public works departments can replace the school building engineers and so on with each and every expensively duplicated function.

    All in all, this proposal would eliminate 245 elected officials in Erie County alone and thousands statewide.

    In sum, costs will be reduced and the grip of special interests will be loosened, which can only lead to a greater focus on educating students which is after all supposed to be the point of it all.




    Appendix

    School Districts in Erie County

    District Board members

    1. Akron Central School District 7
    2. Alden Central School District 7
    3. Amherst Central School District 7
    4. Buffalo City School District 9
    5. Cheektowaga Central School District 7
    6. Cheektowaga-Maryvale Union Free School District 5
    7. Cheektowaga-Sloan Union Free School District 7
    8. Clarence Central School District 7
    9. Cleveland Hill Union Free School District 5
    10. Depew Union Free School District 7
    11. East Aurora Union Free School District 7
    12. Eden Central School District 7
    13. Evans-Brant Central School District (Lake Shore) 7
    14. Frontier Central School District 9
    15. Grand Island Central School District 7
    16. Hamburg Central School District 7
    17. Holland Central School District 7
    18. Hopevale Union Free School District At Hamburg 5
    19. Iroquois Central School District 7
    20. Kenmore-Tonawanda Union Free School District 5
    21. Lackawanna City School District 7
    22. Lancaster Central School District 7
    23. North Collins Central School District 7
    24. Orchard Park Central School District 7
    25. Springville-Griffith Institute Central School District 7
    26. Sweet Home Central School District 7
    27. Tonawanda City School District 8
    28. West Seneca Central School District 7
    29. Williamsville Central School District 10
    ______
    245

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    Jim, the main problem with the school districts are that they are governed more by the teachers union than by the school boards. I believe that having individual districts is fine as long as they are union free schools. I also believe that the schools are becoming more and more ,pork and patronage jobs for politicians family members. If you were to check, most of the school board members and general staff are committee members of a political party. When politics enter the schools, education ceases to exist!

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    I read somewhere that the Frontier Central School district turns out more world-beaters per capita than any other district.
    The evil hide even when no one is chasing them.- Proverbs

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    Quote Originally Posted by FJB
    Jim, the main problem with the school districts are that they are governed more by the teachers union than by the school boards. I believe that having individual districts is fine as long as they are union free schools. I also believe that the schools are becoming more and more ,pork and patronage jobs for politicians family members. If you were to check, most of the school board members and general staff are committee members of a political party. When politics enter the schools, education ceases to exist!
    You are right about the impact of politics on education. However, the issue here is the economic impact on taxpayers.

    Improving education is another worthwhile endeavor. The best approach to that would be to remove government from education altogether and completely privatizing the schools. That, being an extreme measure, is highly unlikely to occur in the near future. A good first step would be vouchers and tax credits that enable parents to have a real choice about which school their children attend. Introducing choice with private schools will create competition that will enhance the education level without the need to directly attack the entrenched unions. If they don't mend their ways they will simply go out of business due to a lack of students.
    The path is clear
    Though no eyes can see
    The course laid down long before.
    And so with gods and men
    The sheep remain inside their pen,
    Though many times they've seen the way to leave.

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    This is just our opening salvo on education policy.

    We have to restore meaningful elections. School electioons are a joke with low turnout favoring special interests.

    Our proposal moves that choice to November when most people vote.

    If certain towns don't have enough students, let them align with adjoining towns to form a district with each supervisor on the school board. That way also the voters in November make the decisions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FJB
    Jim, the main problem with the school districts are that they are governed more by the teachers union than by the school boards. I believe that having individual districts is fine as long as they are union free schools. I also believe that the schools are becoming more and more ,pork and patronage jobs for politicians family members. If you were to check, most of the school board members and general staff are committee members of a political party. When politics enter the schools, education ceases to exist!
    Really can't argue with that FJB.
    Even if there are school board members that are not political hacks and want to make positive changes, they are screwed over by the unions and the state education bureaucracy.
    The public school districts are just a bunch of taxpayer plundering machines for special interests.
    "It is characteristic of current political thinking to welcome every suggestion which aims at enlarging the influence of government." - Ludwig von Mises

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Ostrowski
    This is just our opening salvo on education policy.

    We have to restore meaningful elections. School electioons are a joke with low turnout favoring special interests.

    Our proposal moves that choice to November when most people vote.
    Jim,

    A couple ideas I'd like to see:

    1) Move the election day proposal to the day after school taxes are due.

    2) Due to chronically overlooked conflict of interest, no NYSUT or NEA members on any school board. Given the choice, I'd prefer to see only private-sector employees, but around here they're in short supply.

    3) Mandate a cap on school taxes, not to exceed COLA.

    4) Eliminate no-bids for contracts.
    "At a minimum, a head of state should have a head."- Vladimir Putin

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Ostrowski
    If certain towns don't have enough students, let them align with adjoining towns to form a district with each supervisor on the school board. That way also the voters in November make the decisions.
    Consider Lancaster, next to the Depew "union free" (whatever the hell that means, it doesn't mean there are no unions!) district.

    Depew is very close to imploding, the dwindling population is likely due to the insanely high Depew school taxes and shallow property values...anybody in Lancaster w/a 3-digit IQ will oppose this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Ostrowski
    In New York State, there are 705 school districts. In Erie County, there are 29 separate school districts, each a government unto itself with elected officials and in most cases with budgets approved at special elections. In the three Erie County cities, voters choose board members but not approve budgets. All these districts are in effect separate governments run by elected schools boards.
    Fact: Buffalo is the only city in Erie County where the voters choose school board members but do not approve budgets. Lackawana and Tonawanda residents get to vote on their cities' budgets. The NYS Constitution was amended a while ago to give "small city" school boards budgetary control. The only upstate cities where the BOEs are NOT independent of the local government are: Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Ostrowski
    The school boards are chosen in special elections with very low turnouts. Most of the voters have a special interest in the outcome, for example, school district employees and the parents of students. The general interests of average citizens are not a significant factor in these elections.

    The results are predictable: bloated payrolls and some of the highest property taxes in the country.

    Giving voters the right to approve budgets has utterly failed to restrain spending. Again, such elections are dominated by special interests which favor higher spending. On occasions when budgets are defeated, similar budgets are often re-submitted until the opposition is worn down.
    I wasn't aware that parents of students constituted a "special interest group", but nontheless, since "special interest groups" already dominate political elections, how is incorporating the schools into the general political process going to "solve" this? If "average citizens" don't get off their butts to vote, then they have no one to blame except themselves if they don't like what the schools do.

    Fact: NYS mandates that public schools follow specified curricula, provide certain services to all district students, and abide by its labor contracts. That means that schools are limited in what they can cut. Usually, the cuts can only be made in some limited transportation costs, in interscholastic sports and extra-curricular activities, and in some non-mandated educational programs (ie, driver education, advanced placement classes, kindergarten, etc.) That's why contingency budgets are frequently only slightly less than the defeated budgets; many of the costs are out of the control of the BOEs.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Ostrowski
    Another deterrent to competitive elections is the artificial nature of the school districts. In 2005, we saw almost every incumbent Erie County Legislator re-elected whereas several incumbent town board members were defeated. It is easier for challengers to defeat incumbents when they are running in their own communities as opposed to special districts which cobble together different communities or neighborhoods.

    The electoral history of Erie County shows a clear pattern: incumbents are most vulnerable in small districts that correspond to organic communities, for example, Buffalo council districts, rather than larger districts which combine different neighborhoods, for example, the Erie County Legislature.

    The present regime allows special interests to use special districts and special elections to control the schools for their own purposes at the expense of the general public which is largely irrelevant to the process.

    We propose to eliminate all these school districts insofar as they constitute separate governments. We propose to eliminate all the elected school boards and special budget elections.

    Under our plan, each city or town will have its own school district. Why elect a board to run the schools when there is already a municipal legislature in each municipality? Responsibility for the schools would shift to the existing town boards, mayors and city councils. Each town board would appoint a superintendent to run the schools on a daily basis. In cities, the mayor would nominate a candidate for superintendent subject to the consent of the council. (This is presently the system in New York City.)
    What about towns like Amherst which contain at least 2 school districts and Cheektowaga which has 3 or 4? More significantly, the budget for the Buffalo Public Schools is determined by the Mayor of Buffalo and the Common Council who dole out $$ to the schools. That has worked really well in eliminating a bloated bureaucracy in the Schools Department in City Hall. You might also want to read the chapters on how Jimmy Griffin effectively crippled Buffalo public schools in Mark Goldman's City on the Lake because he wanted the court ordered integration plan to fail. Also, consider what kind of superintendent a politician like Joel Giambra would nominate to run the schools.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Ostrowski
    In sparsely populated rural areas, perhaps towns could cluster together to form a district with each town’s supervisor serving on the school board.
    Fact: Here are just a few rural districts that have been "clustered together" for 50+ years:

    Gowanda Central School encompasses parts of the towns of Collins (Erie Co), Dayton (Cattaraugus Co), Perrysburg (Cattaraugus Co), Persia (Cattaraugus Co), and the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation (Erie and Cattaraugus Co).
    North Collins Central School includes the town of North Collins plus parts of Eden, Brant, Langford, and New Oregon.
    Lakeshore Central covers the towns of Brant, Evans, Angola, and parts of Eden and North Collins.
    Springville Central includes the Towns of Concord and Sardinia as well as parts of the towns of Collins, East Otto (Cattaraugus County).

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Ostrowski
    This alternative system has many advantages. First and foremost, the voters in general elections will elect the policymakers who run the schools. Special interests will be less likely to dominate elections when the turnout goes from 10 percent to 60 percent. All of the costs associated with special elections and with maintaining separate school boards are eliminated.

    Finally, when the schools become a department of the existing municipal government, consolidation of non-educational functions can occur. The existing parks department will replace the groundskeepers who maintain school sports fields. The public works departments can replace the school building engineers and so on with each and every expensively duplicated function.

    All in all, this proposal would eliminate 245 elected officials in Erie County alone and thousands statewide.
    "Many" advantages? You mentioned three: removal of special interests, non-educational functions can be consolidated with municipal functions, and the elimination of 245 elected officials. Again, the elimination of "special interests" is suspect. The consolidation of non-education functions is not going to happen. It hasn't happened in Buffalo or New York City. Heck, in Buffalo, the school board can't even get the names of janitors so how is it going to force them to go work for the city? The costs of school board/budget elections and school boards are miniscule in the scheme of things -- probably not even 2.5 million across the entire county (or a little more than $2.50 per resident per year) at the cost of turning control of the schools over to politicians and political parties.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Ostrowski
    In sum, costs will be reduced and the grip of special interests will be loosened, which can only lead to a greater focus on educating students which is after all supposed to be the point of it all.
    Jim, if you want to be taken seriously, you need to deal with facts not political or economic ideology. I suggest you do some real research -- ie, get facts -- rather than just "brainstorm" among your like-minded and equally uninformed buddies and admirers.

    The reason that school boards are elected separately and school budgets are voted on separately from the general elections is to try to make them non-partisan. Party affiliations are not allowed in school board cases. School budgets for the upcoming year (September) are presented to the voters in May -- at the same time that school board members are elected. Most BOEs have rotating memberships so that only a portion of their seats are up for election at any one time. As far as I know, most BOE seats pay very little if anything. Making schools subservient to partisan politicians is not going to save money or improve education as the shining example of Buffalo demonstrates.

    Moreover, your claims about "special interests" and low turn-out actually works both ways. A vocal and determined group of taxpayers' advocates can defeat school budgets and put members on the local BOE. This happened in Orchard Park a few years ago. On the other hand, many residents without children in school (ie, "average citizens") vote "yes" on school budgets because they rightly believe that good schools improve property values and make homes easier to sell because there are always people wanting to move into school districts with good schools.
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    Quote Originally Posted by colossus27
    Jim,

    A couple ideas I'd like to see:

    1) Move the election day proposal to the day after school taxes are due.
    FWI ... school budgets and BOE positions are voted on in May.

    Quote Originally Posted by colossus27
    2) Due to chronically overlooked conflict of interest, no NYSUT or NEA members on any school board. Given the choice, I'd prefer to see only private-sector employees, but around here they're in short supply.
    First, you cannot bar anyone from an elected position because of their membership in a group. Second, contrary to your belief, very few faculty members serve on BOEs.

    Quote Originally Posted by colossus27
    3) Mandate a cap on school taxes, not to exceed COLA.
    NYS requires schools to follow curricula, provide services, and fulfill contracts, so the schools' hands are tied. You might want to actually talk to members of your local BOE and ask them about "unfunded mandates". You'll get an earful.

    Quote Originally Posted by colossus27
    4) Eliminate no-bids for contracts.
    What "no-bid contracts" are schools engaging in? Again, state law requires that they bid out purchases and services over a certain amount. Sometimes schools will use vendors that are under "state contract" which means that the vendor has contracted with NYS to offer special prices to governments and public entities within the state.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DelawareDistrict
    You are right about the impact of politics on education. However, the issue here is the economic impact on taxpayers.

    Improving education is another worthwhile endeavor. The best approach to that would be to remove government from education altogether and completely privatizing the schools. That, being an extreme measure, is highly unlikely to occur in the near future. A good first step would be vouchers and tax credits that enable parents to have a real choice about which school their children attend. Introducing choice with private schools will create competition that will enhance the education level without the need to directly attack the entrenched unions. If they don't mend their ways they will simply go out of business due to a lack of students.
    Isn't it a bit hypocritical for an ECC student/graduate to advocate for the elimination of public education? Why did you choose a public college over a private one? It wouldn't be because of the five figure cost differential just in tuition, could it?

    That leads to another question: what about children whose parents can't afford private education?

    Moreover, not only do you assume that there aren't unions in private education, you also assume that teachers work for less in private schools. You might want to revise your assumptions.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Linda_D
    FWI ... school budgets and BOE positions are voted on in May.
    Buffalo? Sorry, I thought this was referring to all schools in Erie County.

    Quote Originally Posted by Linda_D
    First, you cannot bar anyone from an elected position because of their membership in a group. Second, contrary to your belief, very few faculty members serve on BOEs.
    ...despite an obvious conflict of interest when it comes to voting on contracts, right? Lancaster, in a stupifyingly shallow gesture last year, elected a teacher from another school district to it's BOE. This isn't rare, if you think otherwise put up some numbers. There is no way you can say a NYSUT member serving on a board is representing his constituency- unless every resident in his town is an NYSUT member.

    In Maryland, the state has a malpractice-insurance tax on medical insurance premiums. This is what happens when you elect lawyers- they make laws that make them more money.

    When you elect NYSUT members to BoE's, they also make rules that make them more money.

    Quote Originally Posted by Linda_D
    NYS requires schools to follow curricula, provide services, and fulfill contracts, so the schools' hands are tied. You might want to actually talk to members of your local BOE and ask them about "unfunded mandates". You'll get an earful.
    Unfunded mandates, like 'No Child Left Behind", right?

    Ted Kennedy (D-MA) was the genius behind that silly idea. Let's all take a guess what union has donated in excess of $24,500,000- to the same party that backed this unfunded mandate. I'll leave it for you to click on this link:

    http://opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.asp?ID=D000000064

    If teachers complain about this kind of stupidity, maybe their union reps oughta quit backing the drunken murderers that propose it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Linda_D
    What "no-bid contracts" are schools engaging in? Again, state law requires that they bid out purchases and services over a certain amount. Sometimes schools will use vendors that are under "state contract" which means that the vendor has contracted with NYS to offer special prices to governments and public entities within the state.
    Let's just look at the first thing I found on Google:

    http://www.emsc.nysed.gov/schoolbus/...gulations.html

    Bid specifications shall not include special requirements relating to buses, drivers, maintenance and service facilities, the exclusive use of buses, or any other matter which tends to restrict competitive bidding.
    This is pretty clever, until the contract is signed. What follows once the "special requirements relating to buses, drivers, maintenance and service facilities, the exclusive use of buses, or any other matter which tends to restrict competitive bidding" become known to the bid-winner?

    Say it with me. Variances. Which, on every single project I've ever managed, are non-competitive.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/loca...p-374949c.html

    I'll highlight the boldface since that applies to state (and therefore Erie County) policy even though this is about NYC.

    City school officials handed out about $120 million in no-bid contracts to consultants, teacher trainers, testing companies and other outfits last year without the public review required of most city agencies, a Daily News analysis shows.

    The record-breaking sum is equal to roughly the total payout of the past three years combined, according to data from the city controller's office. Last year's payout is also about 10 times greater than in 2002 - the year before Mayor Bloomberg took over the public school system.

    City rules created to prevent graft and save taxpayer money make it difficult for local agencies to buy products or services without an open process that requires competition. When city agencies award lucrative noncompetitive contracts, public hearings are normally held.

    But Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein argue that because public schools are regulated by the state - not the city - the Education Department can follow different rules.
    So much for no-bids.
    Last edited by colossus27; October 31st, 2006 at 01:49 PM.
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    Linda, thanks for your comments. This study is not formally released yet.

    "DRAFT FOR COMMENT"

    I'm not done with my research yet. I posted it in draft form so that I could benefit from the knowledge of others before it is published. So, your comments critical of my research methods are entirely misplaced.

    I subsequently, independently of your post, determined that cities are split into large and small for district purposes. Those findings will be in the published version.

    Let me just say though that Free Buffalo, contrary to its original purpose, has become essentially a volunteer organization. There is no money budgeted for this study. I work on these studies when I can. Ideally, a study like this would require about three weeks of full-time work. I don’t have that luxury. Nevertheless, I'm proud of the studies we have done, frankly.

    Parents of students do have a special interest apart from the general population. That’s why I assume they support more spending. Yes, special interests dominate politics but it’s all relative. They have less power in general elections in small communities than in other types of elections.



    ”Fact: NYS mandates that public schools follow specified curricula, provide certain services to all district students, and abide by its labor contracts.”
    What do you mean by “its labor contracts”?
    Again, I’m trying to improve the process and you’re complaining that I’m not making it perfect. That’s not a good argument.
    As far as Albany dictating how schools are run, you probably know how I feel about that.


    ”What about towns like Amherst which contain at least 2 school districts and Cheektowaga which has 3 or 4?”
    I don’t understand your question.
    “More significantly, the budget for the Buffalo Public Schools is determined by the Mayor of Buffalo and the Common Council who dole out $$ to the schools. That has worked really well in eliminating a bloated bureaucracy in the Schools Department in City Hall. You might also want to read the chapters on how Jimmy Griffin effectively crippled Buffalo public schools in Mark Goldman's City on the Lake because he wanted the court ordered integration plan to fail. Also, consider what kind of superintendent a politician like Joel Giambra would nominate to run the schools.”
    Under our proposal, things would change drastically in the Buffalo. Please re-read it.
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Jim Ostrowski
    In sparsely populated rural areas, perhaps towns could cluster together to form a district with each town’s supervisor serving on the school board.

    ”Fact: Here are just a few rural districts that have been "clustered together" for 50+ years:

    Gowanda Central School encompasses parts of the towns of Collins (Erie Co), Dayton (Cattaraugus Co), Perrysburg (Cattaraugus Co), Persia (Cattaraugus Co), and the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation (Erie and Cattaraugus Co).
    North Collins Central School includes the town of North Collins plus parts of Eden, Brant, Langford, and New Oregon.
    Lakeshore Central covers the towns of Brant, Evans, Angola, and parts of Eden and North Collins.
    Springville Central includes the Towns of Concord and Sardinia as well as parts of the towns of Collins, East Otto (Cattaraugus County).”
    None of that contradicts my point.


    ”"Many" advantages? You mentioned three: removal of special interests, non-educational functions can be consolidated with municipal functions, and the elimination of 245 elected officials. Again, the elimination of "special interests" is suspect. The consolidation of non-education functions is not going to happen. It hasn't happened in Buffalo or New York City. Heck, in Buffalo, the school board can't even get the names of janitors so how is it going to force them to go work for the city?”
    You don’t seem to understand that we propose to abolish the Buffalo School Board.
    “The costs of school board/budget elections and school boards are miniscule in the scheme of things -- probably not even 2.5 million across the entire county (or a little more than $2.50 per resident per year) at the cost of turning control of the schools over to politicians and political parties.”
    It’s a small cost but since they shouldn’t exist anyway, it’s easy money.
    Quote:


    ”Jim, if you want to be taken seriously, you need to deal with facts not political or economic ideology. I suggest you do some real research -- ie, get facts -- rather than just "brainstorm" among your like-minded and equally uninformed buddies and admirers.”

    Again, misplaced criticism. I’m trying something new—trying to get a discussion going in advance of publication. The web allows that. If it’s going to be just insults from people with far less experience publishing policy papers, then I won’t bother the next time.

    “The reason that school boards are elected separately and school budgets are voted on separately from the general elections is to try to make them non-partisan.”

    Right, that failed. Everything government does is by definition political and in a democracy, partisan. Look at who funds the politicians? The “non-partisan” teachers unions.

    ‘Party affiliations are not allowed in school board cases.”

    They should be.

    “School budgets for the upcoming year (September) are presented to the voters in May -- at the same time that school board members are elected. Most BOEs have rotating memberships so that only a portion of their seats are up for election at any one time. As far as I know, most BOE seats pay very little if anything. Making schools subservient to partisan politicians is not going to save money or improve education as the shining example of Buffalo demonstrates.”

    Now, there like self-serving public authorities, accountable to no one. That’s why they’re so expensive.

    Bottom line. Along with Medicaid, education is the main reason why our state has the highest taxes in the country. We are going to tackle this. The present paper is a very tiny start. It’s just the beginning.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Linda_D
    The reason that school boards are elected separately and school budgets are voted on separately from the general elections is to try to make them non-partisan. Party affiliations are not allowed in school board cases. (snip)
    School boards are hardly partisan, particularly since they are the product of a socialist institution. Party affiliations are not allowed in school board cases? Which non-partisan side do NEA donations fall?

    Quote Originally Posted by Linda_D
    First, you cannot bar anyone from an elected position because of their membership in a group.
    BTW, the latter contradicts the former.

    Quote Originally Posted by Linda_D
    On the other hand, many residents without children in school (ie, "average citizens") vote "yes" on school budgets because they rightly believe that good schools improve property values and make homes easier to sell because there are always people wanting to move into school districts with good schools.
    In light of the shallow turnouts most school budget votes get, are you really comfortable making this sort of claim? Do you even have poll data to back this?

    Rightly believe? Forgive my kicking you off your ivory pedestal. It all boils down to this, and the rest is smoke and mirrors.

    The communities that benefit most from our high school taxes are the ones where most of our children have settled.

    I trust the point is clear.
    "At a minimum, a head of state should have a head."- Vladimir Putin

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Ostrowski
    ”Fact: NYS mandates that public schools follow specified curricula, provide certain services to all district students, and abide by its labor contracts.”
    What do you mean by “its labor contracts”?
    Again, I’m trying to improve the process and you’re complaining that I’m not making it perfect. That’s not a good argument.
    As far as Albany dictating how schools are run, you probably know how I feel about that.
    If you don't understand the limitations on BOEs then you can't come up with reasonable solutions. School boards are not free to do whatever they want. They have to teach certain subjects at certain grade levels, they have to maintain certain staffing levels, they have to provide busing for private school students with free transportation up to 15 miles from the school, they have to provide special education services to physically and mentally handicapped students, they have to pay the raises that they agreed to in their contracts with employees, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Ostrowski
    ”What about towns like Amherst which contain at least 2 school districts and Cheektowaga which has 3 or 4?”
    I don’t understand your question.
    You said you wanted "local" and "neighborhood" governance. You said consolidation is bad. So, are you turning around and saying consolidating Amherst, Sweethome, and Williamsville into 1 school district is fine because it's all in 1 town?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Ostrowski
    “More significantly, the budget for the Buffalo Public Schools is determined by the Mayor of Buffalo and the Common Council who dole out $$ to the schools. That has worked really well in eliminating a bloated bureaucracy in the Schools Department in City Hall. You might also want to read the chapters on how Jimmy Griffin effectively crippled Buffalo public schools in Mark Goldman's City on the Lake because he wanted the court ordered integration plan to fail. Also, consider what kind of superintendent a politician like Joel Giambra would nominate to run the schools.”
    Under our proposal, things would change drastically in the Buffalo. Please re-read it.
    Your proposal is that the mayor and Common Council would run the schools instead of the BOE. Turning the schools over to career politicians interested in covering their backsides and finding cushy jobs for their relatives and minions is definitely an improvement. You really think that the Parks Department and the Schools Department will work together. You are naive, Jim. The BOE had to go to court to force the head janitors to reveal the names of their "hirees" working in the schools!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Ostrowski
    Originally Posted by Jim Ostrowski
    In sparsely populated rural areas, perhaps towns could cluster together to form a district with each town’s supervisor serving on the school board.

    ”Fact: Here are just a few rural districts that have been "clustered together" for 50+ years:

    Gowanda Central School encompasses parts of the towns of Collins (Erie Co), Dayton (Cattaraugus Co), Perrysburg (Cattaraugus Co), Persia (Cattaraugus Co), and the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation (Erie and Cattaraugus Co).
    North Collins Central School includes the town of North Collins plus parts of Eden, Brant, Langford, and New Oregon.
    Lakeshore Central covers the towns of Brant, Evans, Angola, and parts of Eden and North Collins.
    Springville Central includes the Towns of Concord and Sardinia as well as parts of the towns of Collins, East Otto (Cattaraugus County).”
    None of that contradicts my point.
    No it doesn't contradict your point, but since it's already been done, it again demonstrates that you need to do your homework. Why are you trying to reinvent the wheel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Ostrowski
    ”"Many" advantages? You mentioned three: removal of special interests, non-educational functions can be consolidated with municipal functions, and the elimination of 245 elected officials. Again, the elimination of "special interests" is suspect. The consolidation of non-education functions is not going to happen. It hasn't happened in Buffalo or New York City. Heck, in Buffalo, the school board can't even get the names of janitors so how is it going to force them to go work for the city?”
    You don’t seem to understand that we propose to abolish the Buffalo School Board.
    “The costs of school board/budget elections and school boards are miniscule in the scheme of things -- probably not even 2.5 million across the entire county (or a little more than $2.50 per resident per year) at the cost of turning control of the schools over to politicians and political parties.”
    It’s a small cost but since they shouldn’t exist anyway, it’s easy money.
    Why shouldn't School Boards exist? You haven't made a single argument that shows not having them is better than having them. They are grass roots democracy. Any resident who's a citizen and age 18 or older can run. Candidates don't need to collect gazillions of signatures and adhere to arcane state election laws because they are non-partisan. They file the paper work, maybe print up some signs and campaign literature, get some friends to help them campaign, and they're in business. These aren't career politicians; they're community members who get involved because they care about their communities and their schools.

    I'm a supporter of democracy, and your plan smells of autocracy and oligarchy in the name of lowering taxes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Ostrowski
    ”Jim, if you want to be taken seriously, you need to deal with facts not political or economic ideology. I suggest you do some real research -- ie, get facts -- rather than just "brainstorm" among your like-minded and equally uninformed buddies and admirers.”

    Again, misplaced criticism. I’m trying something new—trying to get a discussion going in advance of publication. The web allows that. If it’s going to be just insults from people with far less experience publishing policy papers, then I won’t bother the next time.
    This was aimed at several of the responders whose suggestions are clearly illegal and/or unconstitutional. Some were just plain ignorant.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Ostrowski
    “The reason that school boards are elected separately and school budgets are voted on separately from the general elections is to try to make them non-partisan.”

    Right, that failed. Everything government does is by definition political and in a democracy, partisan. Look at who funds the politicians? The “non-partisan” teachers unions.

    ‘Party affiliations are not allowed in school board cases.”

    They should be.
    That's your opinion. You are also an ideologue from Buffalo and Erie County, so you see everything as political. I suppose it must be something in the water up there that makes you (ie, people from Hamburg north) not understand that people can work together towards consensus. Maybe you all have too much money or time on your hands.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Ostrowski
    ““School budgets for the upcoming year (September) are presented to the voters in May -- at the same time that school board members are elected. Most BOEs have rotating memberships so that only a portion of their seats are up for election at any one time. As far as I know, most BOE seats pay very little if anything. Making schools subservient to partisan politicians is not going to save money or improve education as the shining example of Buffalo demonstrates.”

    Now, there like self-serving public authorities, accountable to no one. That’s why they’re so expensive.
    That's plain bull manure. BOEs are directly responsible to the district voters. If the residents don't get off their butts and vote, that's they're problem. Your proposal, to take away peoples' right to specifically elect the people who run their local schools because not enough of them vote, smacks of autocracy. You don't lose your vote just because you don't exercise it the way some people think you ought to. Your supposed "libertarianism" is really only about "libertariansim" as JO sees it.
    Your right to buy a military weapon without hindrance, delay or training cannot trump Daniel Barden’s right to see his eighth birthday. -- Jim Himes

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