Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Trying to keep school costs down, even in wealthy Bronxville

This echos the comments I heard at our local schools community forum last year.
“You hear people say they want Mandarin taught in the sixth grade or they want smaller class size or some other enhancement,” said Julie Meade, president of the Parent Teacher Association and mother of two school-age children. “But they don’t talk about raising taxes to pay for what they advocate. I haven’t heard anyone say raise taxes to pay for quality.
Some advocate for addressing the compensation issue.
Some residents argue that the town should be more businesslike, cutting other costs to offset the outlay for smaller classes. Peter P. Pulkkinen is one. A 40-year-old investment banker . . . wants small classes . . . But rather than raise taxes, he would restrict the compensation of existing teachers — particularly their benefits.
Displaying a sheaf of charts and projections that he and a friend prepared for a school board meeting, Mr. Pulkkinen said in an interview that if property taxes continued to rise in Bronxville at roughly the trajectory of the last decade, they would double by 2020 — and by 46 percent in the unlikely event the “austerity budgets” of the last two years continued through the decade. “I think it is a false paradigm to have to choose between radically diminished services or exponentially higher taxes,” he said, “without first addressing the structural issue of teacher compensation.”
The choices given to taxpayers are limited, with the compensation issues "off the table".
So far, he said, Dr. Quattrone and the school board have not done so. Instead, they have chosen “soft targets.” One hour a week of Spanish instruction to grade-school students, for example, was eliminated last year.
School employees' compensation has continued to increase, but that doesn't reflect what has happened in the private sector.
“You are looking at a community of people who saw their property taxes go up for years, and now their incomes aren’t going up,”
Even in Wealthy Towns, Schools Feel the Pinch - NYT, 3/8/11

1 comment:

  1. Apparently, this newspaper article is getting a lot of scorn in the social media world. The notion of investment bankers trying to limit teachers' pay does seem ripe for mocking.