On Tuesday, May 15, voters across New York state will vote on their local school district budgets, and the property tax levies needed to pay for them. WRVO's Catherine Loper spoke with Rick Timbs, executive director of the Statewide School Finance Consortium about the effect this year's budget cycle will have on schools and the future of education funding in New York.
Many rural school districts rely heavily on state aid because of a relative lack of property wealth in their regions, so the past few years of deep state aid cuts have hit them hard. Rural districts also have experienced declining enrollments that have helped dull the pain. But two school districts in southern Jefferson County say the decline in their student populations isn't keeping pace with the rapid reductions from the state that make up most of their budgets.
We’re less than a week away. On Tuesday, New Yorkers will flock to the polls to vote on their respective school budgets. Tuesday will be the first time budgets will be voted on since New York state adopted the property tax cap that limits the amount districts can levy taxes to their constituents.
The cap is putting pressure on schools in the suburbs of Syracuse, but pressure is not new – it’s part of a growing trend in budget problems for public schools.
Urban schools in New York state face a special challenge. These schools need more funding to teach larger numbers of children, many of whom need special services because of poverty. At the same time, they find themselves dependent on local governments that are also going through tough budget times.