City schools’ Board of Education says no to hockey team tournament trip
One year ago, then-Board of Education President Andy Pedro proposed a resolution creating a review committee for all city school field trips, with the hope of instating some sort of moratorium or strict criteria for all trips. Pedro was looking ahead to the dark days under a possible property tax cap, and thinking creatively on how to save money with cuts to non-mandated programs.
The resolution passed, and the committee was formed.
That committee has not met one time since. But its vision was realized Monday night, as the board voted 5-2 to deny the Batavia High School hockey team its annual trip to play in an out-of-area tournament.
“It’s got nothing to do with the hockey program, nothing personal against hockey,” Pedro said. “My opinion was no field trips, period.”
But what will make the ruling frustrating for players, parents and coaches is that the trip would not have cost the district a dime. All of the money was raised by the players and the Hockey Boosters club, to completely fund the cost of the tournament.
“If these organizations are raising this kind of money…our district is in a tough financial situation right now, and it’d be nice if that money could help alleviate the pain the district is feeling,” Pedro said.
In other words: have the sports teams at least partially pay for themselves.
Senior Board Member Patrick Burk echoed that sentiment.
“We’ve been given a directive to cut all of our interscholastic athletics, as well as clubs and activities for students, by a large amount,” Burk said. “When you’re looking at sports…in order for (them) to even be in the district next year, they may have to raise this amount of money just to save their program.”
Burk noted that imposing “pay-to-play” restrictions on high school athletes is illegal in New York. But, it’s not illegal to have a sports boosters' club raise the money to fund a program. Burk pointed to the Elba Central School District, which cut football out of its budget in the middle of the last decade. A football boosters club was able to adequately fundraise and save the program that year.
“At some point, somebody’s got to be the ‘bad guy,’” Burk told his colleagues, or all sports and other extracurriculars could suddenly disappear simply because they’re not mandated.
The two board members voting to approve the hockey team trip were Amy Barone and Steve Mountain. Mountain saw no reason to deny the kids a trip they’d worked toward throughout the year.
“To me, it’s giving the kids the opportunity to do what they want to do,” he said. “I think that they deserve the opportunity to go.” But he also expressed that he never hears much feedback from area parents, which may have skewed his decision.
Pedro says he does hear a lot of feedback from parents, who say enough is enough when it comes to fundraising.
“I had two kids who played sports all through high school, and the fundraising just gets out of control,” Pedro said. “I think (the hockey team) can accomplish what they need to accomplish by staying in our area, playing competitive teams.”
PHOTOS: inset top, Patrick Burk; inset bottom, Amy Barone, left, and Steve Mountain.
Seems to me that there is way too much admin and not enough support for the students. If I were the parent(s) I would get together with the players and head out for this tourney on their own. I love the way school districts in general love to cut music, sports, and other extra activities. But will still pay ridiculous salaries to a top heavy administration. Nothing like financial manipulation to make people pay attention and do what you want. Mark my words a deal will be struck for the things the school wants to do that are unpopular once the wheeling and dealing starts.
hmmm that word the smiley appeared in was parent( s )
I thought the idea was that if groups wanted trips, they were to raise all the money. So, if there is no cost to the taxpayer and school district why not let them go? I did not see the reason for this denial given. And what happens to the money raised?
So here we have a group that 6 months ago thought it would be a good idea to spend $1.4 million to renovate an athletic facility but now an athletic team can't go on a trip EVEN THOUGH it won't cost the district a dime??
Seriously?? THIS is their idea of 'fiscal responsibility'? What....make the kids suffer to punish their parents?
And...Andy - I love ya but what's that comment about the money that boosters raise being used to help the district? So do you mean that boosters would raise the $$ and then just hand it over to you guys and Mr. Rozanski so that he can waste it? That's not gonna fly.
I just got my tax bill over the weekend and my bill went up by 12.5% over last year. So much for a 2% tax cap. To be very honest, this is going to hurt me to pay this bill and I'm sure I'm not the only one, so this board and this district HAS to start doing something to bring down costs. I think that denying the hockey team from going on an annual trip to a tournament - a trip that won't cost the district a nickel - shows just how out of touch this board is with reality.
How about this Board of Education? With all the talk about school consolidation and all the discussion related to that, I haven't heard ONE WORD about the sale of the property at the end of North St. Why is that?
That alone tells me that this board is not only out of touch with reality but has no idea how to cut costs.
Dave - The 12.5% increase in your tax bill is actually because of the 2% tax cap. What most people didn't know about that legislation is that the 2% tax cap also caps STAR savings at that same amount. Therefore, anyone who was getting a benefit from the STAR program will see their taxes go up this year.
True Keith. What people also don't realize is that the cap has no affect on actual assesment rates. So if a County or City need to raise capital, they can keep the increase to the levy under, then send out out an assessor to up your value. Of course you could fight that, but how many people do that?
Phil - my impression is that this increase would have occurred regardless of any assessment increase. From what I've read, despite the 2% tax cap not going into effect this year, part of that legislation included a piece that capped STAR tax benefits at 2%. This meant that even if your assessment stayed the same, if your tax rate went up (which most people's did), you could only receive a 2% credit on that increase.
Effectively, New York State created a way to raise a fairly significant amount of money by putting the cap on STAR credit in place this year, but not implementing the 2% tax cap until next year.
That's about right, Keith. Just remember they're protecting you though! This is how they do it. Stop those bad local governments for spending too much money(wagging fingers), while they screw you on the back end. Yay Democracy!
PB has no problems using school facilities for free as we the public pick up the utilities tab, but he has a problem with the Hockey team being self-sufficant . What a joke . So I guess the baseball team won't be doing the Florida trip . I think the whole board should go away along with the about half the Admin. Lets start fresh , we can't be any worse off.
I'm aware of that Keith, but that doesn't change the fact that my tax bill went up 12.5%.
My point is that my tax bill and I'm sure those of most every tax payer went up WAY MORE than the board said that the rate of increase was when they tooted their horn about what a good job they did "holding the line".
Again....what about the North St. property?
The school tax bill you got was set before the 2% tax cap. And a majority of people voted for it. They also voted to keep people on the School Board that do this stuff. Al McGinnis, who lost last year, will run for the school board again next year and hopes to have a two others run with him. Time to clean house.
Dave, you hit the nail on the head. Mr. Burk and this board wanted to borrow and spend a lot of money on the stadium and on the North Street extension. While the stadium could use repairs, the excessive upgrades would have been a waste in light of all this. And Mr. Burk's North Street sports park would be unused and the money wasted.
And while cutting field trips, what is the reason for holding on to that North Street property?
This kind of stuff is just the tip of the iceberg. The 2% tax cap will do nothing but result in very dramatic cuts in basic services. The state mandated items won't get cut and all the locally funded services will get eliminated.
CUT MEDICAID AND EVERYTHING ELSE IN NEW YORK FIXES ITSELF!
It's MEDICAID breaking the bank, not a field trip. NY spends $53,000,000,000 per year on MEDICAID--more than California, Texas and North Carolina combined.
Cutting Medicaid by only 1% raises over a half BILLION dollars.
Stopping worrying about the little stuff and start paying attention to the 800 lb gorilla!
What is the STAR program?
The New York State School Tax Relief Program (STAR) provides homeowners with two types of partial exemptions from school property taxes. If you earn less than $500,000 and own and live in your home, you're probably eligible for the STAR exemption.
Two types of STAR exemptions:
•available for owner-occupied, primary residences where the resident owners' and their spouses income is less than $500,000
•exempts the first $30,000 of the full value of a home from school taxes
•provides an increased benefit for the primary residences of senior citizens (age 65 and older) with qualifying incomes.
•exempts the first $60,100 of the full value of a home from school taxes.
STAR exemptions apply only to school district taxes. They don't apply to property taxes for other purposes, such as county, town or city (except in cities where city property taxes fund schools - Buffalo, New York City, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers)
I love your little vendetta against Pat Burk, John. It's cute. It's all Mr. Burk's projects, not the entire school board, or district, just him.
Vendetta, no. But he was the most vocal about the North Street sports park, which would have required the district to borrow money. I did not then and still do not believe we can afford it. I want most of that property given to the City as green space, like Centennial Park.
As for the excessive upgrades to Van Detta, this new budget seems to show the public made the right call. You do not borrow money for artificial turf when you are laying off staff.
Sure. I agree with the selling of North Street.
Van Detta, I'm sorry to say was a bunch of misinformation that is still around. The project came from another bucket of state and federal money. The district would have had some exposure, that is very true, but it was not to the degree or would have affected the main budget like it was made out. Does that make sense? Nope, but welcome to NY. Regardless, I understand the sentiment, I just find it funny how you use Burk as your whipping post. If memory serves he was Board President during the North Street thing, so yeah they tend to talk more. :-)
He was not president then. In fact he said the whole idea was somebody else's. I also don't necessarily want to sell North Street as much as see it turned over to the City as green space. That also eliminates the School board from coming up with any more ideas like that.
I understand the funding for Van Detta. I also understand the Board has money to still do repairs and that money can not be used for any other purpose. But the original plan called for borrowing. I do not support taking on optional debt when you are cutting staff and programs.
Really? You want to give over a parcel of land to the city, so the city can turn it into something? Instaed of selling it to someone who may utilize and put it back on the tax roll? Sorry disagree with you there.
I do not support additional debt as well, but your facts are skewed. The Repair reserves are not as much as people think they are, and they are going to have to last for a while now. I've already said that there would be an additional debt, and I already said that I understand why people were against that.
Look none of this really matters anyway. It was voted down and the people's will was met. That's why we have this process. I just think that it's sad that you're trying to politicize this. This isn't politics, this is a school board. Pat Burk is a big boy and can defend himself if he wants to, I'm just tired of reading how Pat is trying to cram North Street here, or Van Detta there, or my personal favorite...that he's screwing the citizens of Batavia for his Volunteer Theater group. Yes, this man who volunteers on the BOE, is secretly making a fortune off the backs of the poor people of Batavia....by having his community based VOLUNTEER theater. Just Stupidity.
These are just ridiculous statements.
The North Street idea was never voted on, as you should know. To go forward the last time they needed some money from the City and that never had any support from Council. Council members Bill Cox, Rose Mary Christian and a few others expressed opposition. In fact, Bill Cox has made his opposition to this part of his re election campaign.
There is enough North Street property to make a nice green space and if the public wanted, there is land that can be sold that will not hurt the neighbors that are there now. In fact, the Board even said there was land that could be sold if they could have the sports park. But at this time, the present School Board is still sitting on the land.
But you are right, none of this matters now with the budget.
I do remember all of that. Right, sell it. All of it. Get it off the books. I don't need another green space, this city has a ton of them, and you're right it wasn't voted on. I would love to see who wants to flay themselves by recommending the city take on another park.
It won't be you though....
October 6, 2009 - 4:39pm #3 John Roach
...We do not need another park. We do not need another track when we already have two. We do not need the higher taxes this will bring after it is built.
So we agree, sell it. Who cares how much you get for it. It makes you nothing now.
True, I do not think we "need" another park, but I also don't see the School Board making any effort to sell it either. And I was in favor of selling all of it long before 2009. But with the housing market collapse (as a banker, you might have noticed that) I would rather the City have it than the School district.
The Housing Market collapse has nothing to do with that parcel of land. And I would rather neither have it honestly. It doesn't have to be housing. It is an open piece of land, so there are literally thousands of possibilities that it could be used for.
I think the school district has had other things on their plates the past few weeks, but like I said, I agree it should be sold. I do not agree however, that the city should get it unless they have a plan for it. Trading assests from government agency to another is not a solution.
So we agree the School District should give up the land. And we agree that the first choice should be a sale.
I would say sell it also and get it back on the tax rolls...Giving to the city would just be more grass to mow..How did the school district get that land in the first place..How much did they pay for it.......Maybe its time to redo the teachers contracts.. ,,The UAW had to reopen their contracts in 2008 to save the car company's..Maybe the teachers can do the same and try to save the school district having to cut sports and music programs..The pensions that are paid to these ex-school aministators are out of hand.....
one Ex....Stutzman==102,532 /yr
John Murray ===76,383/yr
plus Health care..
Yes John, we agree.
Unless someone gave me a profound reason to keep it, I see no reason at all.