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February 3, 2009 - 7:28am

News roundup: City school board cuts a half million from budget

posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, budget, Le Roy, school board, schools, finance.

After slimming the budget by a half million dollars last night, the Batavia City School Board has already cut the proposed property tax increase from 23 to 16 percent, according to WBTA's Dan Fischer. City Schools Superintendent Margaret Puzio told Fischer that she hopes an offer of early retirement option to three labor unions could help stave off any outright layoffs of teachers or staff. Puzio also hopes and expects to further reduce the tax increase. Visit the WBTA Web site to hear her comments on that.

Batavia city schools are closed today for Superintendent's Conference Day. Also, LeRoy BOCES school is closed today due to a water main break.

tom hunt
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That is a step in the right direction, but the budget process has a ways to go before it is approved. All public organizations that feed at the public trough have to realize the taxpayer's pockets are only so deep. With the increasing number of retirees, because of the greying of America, and the disfranchised living on fixed incomes, the status quo of annual increases has to become a relic of the past. People who have worked their whole lives deserve better than to be forced out of their homes because of financial reasons. Yes, we have the responsibility to educate our young, but at what cost? New York State, according to a recent poll, leads the nation in real estate taxes as a per centage of real estate value. 19 counties of the top 20 counties in the U.S. are NYS based. Not something to be proud of with Genesee and Orleans county being in the top 10. Come on adminstraters and bean counters you can do better than a 16% increase.
Mark Potwora
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TP Hunt has got it right..42,000,000 dollar budget to educate 2300 students ..18,000 dollars per student seems high to me..College is cheaper..
Leonard Clark
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Administrators just don't get it. . . In this economy there should not be an increase in anyone's budget. Stop spending. That is what they should be listening to. No taxes should be going up in this economy. Your costs are up, of course, but everyone's are. We have to adjust our budgets to make due when times are bad, they should also. Getting more tax money from anywhere doesn't make it right to keep raising taxes. Tax money come the taxpayers. They have had enough! Don't you get it? Don't say it, do it! Stop the spend for this, cut for that. Stop spending period... Bring the economy down to where it really should be. The spending days are over. A turn-around in the economy will happen, but not overnight.
Dave Meyer
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What gets me about this is the unmitigated gall displayed by the administration and the board of ed to even *CONSIDER* a tax increase at this time. Do you read the papers at all!? Are you not aware that city residents have been subjected to double digit city tax increases each year over the past several years? Worse yet is that they admit that enrollment is declining and they STILL want an increase. Take a look at the administration roster on this page: http://www.bataviacsd.org/district.cfm?subpage=35 Ask yourself, do we really need (in addition to Ms. Puzio and Mr. Rozanski - who I do not believe by the way pay taxes in the school district) a 'Director of Special Education and Alternative Education', a 'Director of Learning, K-12', and a 'Administrator of Student Assessment/Data Analysis'? I'll bet that there is easily $350k in salary and benefits tied up in those positions. In these tough times, how about Ms. Puzio assuming some of those duties and earning her (easily in excess of $100K) salary. I'm thinking at least one of the first two could be eliminated. And can anyone tell me what an 'Administrator of Student Assessment/Data Analysis' does? Oh....wait...that's the job that was created for the former high school principal wasn't it? Now there's $100K well spent!! There was a mention of (potentially) putting off technology purchases. Ummm....yeah. Without question. Classes may have to be larger, although if the enrollment is actually declining then that point is moot. The bottom line is that the population of the city is declining. What population is left is getting older and there is simply nothing left in the financial tank (especially in these times). The board has been on a spending/building spree for the past several years with all that "free" state money and now they're faced with an overbuilt infrastructure and a declining enrollment and they want to try to balance that on the backs of already overburdened taxpayers. It has to stop now. The board of education needs to realize that and take a realistic approach to decreasing spending.
Beth Kinsley
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I must admit, I thought the same thing about the 'Administrator of Student Assessment/Data Analysis' when I saw it. What exactly does that job entail and, if we got away without one until recently, why do we need one now?
Chris Charvella
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Here's a link to more information about that particular job and why it has been deemed necessary. http://www.ncrel.org/policy/pubs/html/data/index.html
Beth Kinsley
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Thanks Chris. I still don't know if I'm buying it. I'm not a huge fan of standardized testing.
Chris Charvella
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I'm not a fan of standardized testing as the only measure of a student's progress. Arguments can be made that standardized testing is biased toward the affluent and, maybe more importantly, it can force good teachers into teaching the test and schools into artificially inflating test scores. Testing has its place and can be used as a barometer for progress, but test scores alone are insufficient measures of a student's ability and potential. A high school senior should be able to diagram a sentence but being able to identify a dangling participle cannot predict a person's ability to understand themes in literature. That's just one example of course, but high school should prepare students for college where broader, critical thinking is important. But I'm digressing here so I'll get to the point. Are some of the jobs mentioned earlier in this thread unnecessary? Maybe, but until we get a handle on how to better educate our children those jobs are here to stay.
Dave Meyer
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Chris, that's an interesting link but I am definitely NOT buying it. I took a look at that website and from what I can determine, they are in the business of consulting and/or selling goods and services to school districts. OF COURSE they would try to justify such a position. What is interesting is that this position DID NOT EXIST until the former high school principal was replaced. After she was replaced, this position "magically" appeared. Given what her salary must have been as a high school principal I'm betting she didn't take a pay cut. It's not so much even this particular position. It just seems that once you're dealing with a government agency (for the sake of this argument, I'll consider the school district a government agency) all the rules about accountability for spending tax $$ seem to go out the window. Bottom line...the board and the district MUST change the way they approach what they do. The bottomless pit that was the taxpayers' pocket is empty.
Chris Charvella
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David, what you say may be true, it was just the first link of many that I found when I googled the job so I can't endorse the site or the information therein. I can say that NCREL is a non-proft organization so take what you want from that. The point is, I suppose, that the job in question was made necessary because of the emphasis on standardized testing. Schools need trained people to count the beans, as it were, when it comes to district performance and this was the solution. The other option would be to train current staff to do the job but that costs the district money and also takes an employee out of the education loop while they're performing a function that wasn't an original part of their job. Of course the faculty member(s) are now performing work outside the scope of their original contract and may be entitled to some sort of compensation for their trouble. Add up the cost of training multiple faculty members and then compensating them and it's possible we arrive at the conclusion that hiring a single 'Administrator of Student Assessment/Data Analysis' may have been the fiscally responsible way to do things. All I can say for certain is that wherever an argument exists, there is a counter-argument waiting in the shadows to bare its teeth. As long as standardized testing is the rule for public schools, districts will have to hire folks to make sure things are done properly.
Chris Charvella
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Here's another way to do the Assesment/Analysis job, but I'm sure it isn't cheap. http://www.pearsoned.com/pr_2006/062706.htm

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