Wednesday, May 11, 2011

New Rochelle school district budget analysis shows skyrocketing costs and deficit projection

Adam D. Egelberg, CFA, a resident of the New Rochelle School District, has taken a close look at district finances and is writing a series of blog posts with important information that voters should review before going to the polls next week.  He has done an amazing job uncovering details and trends, something that I'd like to see done in my own school district.

(As a side note, it's noteworthy that  the school charged Egelberg $489.79 for budgets going back to 2000-01 that he requested through the FOIL (Freedom of Information Law) process.  He was charged for photocopying even though nine of the ten budgets he received were "left-over bounded copies from prior years" that had already been paid for by his property taxes.)

Spending in New Rochelle has skyrocketed in comparison to inflation and enrollment.  (Adding a student achievement measure to this chart would show if more money has resulted in better-educated students.)

In a nutshell, expenses are out of control. Over the past 10 years our health care and general welfare benefit costs have gone up by 138%. It is a shocking increase when compared with an 8% rise in student enrollment.

This chart confirms for me that the real choice area school districts have is either to cut student programs or cut compensation costs.  The reason I believe this is that since Westchester property taxes are already the highest in the country, I doubt taxes can be raised much more.

School districts should share historical and projected budget data with residents, preparing charts similar to those created by Mr. Egelberg.  How hard can it be?

More to come from Talk of the Sound.

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