Friday, March 28, 2014

Clarence Taxpayers Picking Over the Schools' Carcass

The "Clarence Taxpayers" are a curious group. Regard:

03/13/14 Clarence Tax Payers' primary concern is keeping our schools great, not just for this year, but long term. In an effort to do this, the District has to be responsible for long term planning. CTP has pushed for Mr. Hicks to show a 5 year projection for spending and income. We will continue to press this point.
At the third and final budget working group session, Hicks did just that - he provided 5 year projections of spending and revenues; projections that the business administrator, Richard Mancuso, characterized as "very conservative". Here is the presentation. The 5 year numbers start on page 21. Mission accomplished.   
Something we have noticed in Mr. Hick's [sic] budget proposal is a heavy reliance on getting more money from the State. We don't believe this is fiscally sound or a good strategy for sustaining our District and the quality education we expect for our children. CTP believes in being proactive and implementing strategies that are long term.
Like what, exactly? New York State aid makes up about $20 million of a $72 million budget.  That's a sizeable chunk. When Superintendent Hicks is raising concerns about state aid, he's talking about the fact that Albany is withholding millions of dollars' worth of aid to which the district should be entitled. Under the "Gap Elimination Adjustment" scheme, Albany holds money back from districts - especially wealthy ones like Clarence - to help balance Albany debt.  You pay taxes to Albany in many forms - sales and income for starters, and that money is supposed to go to fund schools throughout New York State. If the GEA didn't exist, Clarence and other districts would be in much better financial shape.

Simply writing that you "don't believe" that this is "fiscally sound or a good strategy" doesn't make it so. Plus, the glaring omission of any alternative ways to fund the schools is PRETTY HUGE.

Along those same lines is the Districts' [sic] focus on revenue rather than finding long term management of expenditures. This is putting our children's educational future in jeopardy when costs continue to rise beyond income.
This is nothing more than resentment porn. These people resent the fact that we pay teachers a living wage, and that these professional educators receive better benefits than they do. When someone gets a Master's Degree and works in the private sector, they have a great opportunity to make a lot of money.  When someone decides instead to go into teaching - a profession (not some retail job) that is arguably the most important in our society - they forego that remuneration.

But that's not the point. The real point is that teachers earn every penny of what they make, including the benefits. Get back to me when the "Clarence Taxpayers" start whining about what Sheriffs earn and their benefits. Or soldiers.
CTP wants long term solutions, not quick fixes. To that end, we believe that:
Receiving state aid to which the district is legally entitled every year is not a "quick fix".
·    District employees need to pay their fair share towards their health care.
Right. Resentment. Teachers make too much. They get better benefits. They earn it. Stop blaming these professionals. When are they going to complain about Hartzell's raise? When are they going to complain about the pay and benefits at Town Hall? 
  • ·     Eliminate the HRA accounts.
What? Why? 

  • ·     The Clarence Enrichment Foundation [sic] be made permanent.
Here's the heart of the matter. Because of their destruction of the schools last year, families had to scramble like panhandlers and beg for money to restore clubs and programs. The CSEF raised the money through tireless work. This crowd wants to cut these clubs and programs permanently - this puts the lie to their claims to want a "great" or "strong" school district. They want to starve the students, starve the district. They want to relegate the schools to indigent panhandling status. 

The CSEF is permanent. It will be offering scholarships and raising money for capital projects. Its mission is not - and never was intended to be - to restore basic clubs and programs.  And do you know who didn't donate to CSEF? The "Clarence Taxpayers". Not one of their names is on there, and it's a disgrace. 

  • ·     A professional negotiator be hired for the upcoming contract negotiations.

Great idea! But it's not in the budget. Go out and raise money to hire your own. Or better still, let's use Superintendent Hicks, who was hired as Superintendent and is paid a good sum of money to be the district's professional contract negotiator. It's in his job description.  And whom, precisely, would this crowd retain? A lawyer? Henry Kissinger? What is a "professional negotiator"? Anyhow, Clarence Taxpayers should understand that we taxpayers aren't going to fund their redundant folly. 

We, the tax payers, teachers and administrators, can all work together to keep our schools great!
Tell a lie often enough, people start to believe it. These vultures are picking on the carcass of a wounded system. Don't let them consume it. Attend the board meetings on April 7th at 7pm at the High School lecture hall, and the budget hearing on May 12th at 7pm at the High School. The real taxpayers will not tolerate a repeat of last year's disaster. 

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