Monday, May 9, 2016

The Clarence School Board Election 2016

Our perennial opponents were leafleting mailboxes this past weekend with this:

I checked the records on Via Cimato and Northfield to try and find out which properties were being referenced. I could not find one with the exact tax figures represented on this sheet. 

As for the tax figures, note the very convenient date range. Had our intrepid propagandists taken this back 10 years, rather than 5, they'd have a much different conclusion. The tax rates were much higher in 2004 - 2007, before the stock market crash, and many homes are only now paying a similar dollar amount as they did back then. The net increase, therefore, for many homes in a 10-year range is negligible. Perhaps that's why they did it this way - to make it seem as if the district was just raising taxes for the heck of it. 

But let's, once and for all, rebut the lies and misinformation about enrollment. These charts are wrong and misleading. Kindergarten class numbers are already starting to recover. Corcoran's propagandistic use of these graphs just takes the decline and assumes it will continue and projects outward. 

Let's take a look at more recent figures, from the Superintendent's presentation in February 2016. Here is the nutshell version: 

Enrollment is already stabilizing. Although district enrollment will decline by about 1% per year for the next 5 years, elementary school enrollment is already poised to rise

Elementary Schools: Two methodologies were employed that both predicted that fewer than 300 kids would enroll in kindergarten for the 2016 - 2017 school year. As of right now, both projections were significantly off-the-mark, and it's possible that it was off by as many as 80 kids. 

Looking more broadly at elementary school enrollment, look at the class sizes based on the actual census so far, and the projected census based on trends: 

Or, more significantly, 

Now, if you look at the data from the task force's projections, you'll find that the rebound is expected to happen sooner rather than later: the current projection for 2018-19 is 1,848 vs. 1,800, and if you go back further to 2013, the revised 2020-2021 elementary enrollment projection would be a net loss of zero students. 

As for the remaining schools, here are the revised projections: 

But Ellie doesn't break it down district-wide. She only goes by elementary, middle school, and high school. Her document claims the following: 

  • Elementary schools will go from "2,300-1,500" students from 2010 - 2023; 
  • The middle school will supposedly go from, "1,200 - 900" students; and 
  • The high school will go from, "1,700 - 1,200" students in that timeframe. 

All are false. We don't have projections to 2023, only to 2020-2021. In that time: 

  • Elementary schools will go from 2,141 to 1,911; 
  • Middle School will go from 1,211 to 979; 
  • High School will go from 1,667 to 1,409

Corcoran's figures for elementary decline is 400 students off; for middle school it's 80 students off, and for the high school she overexaggerated by 200 kids. That's 680 students she just omits. 

Now, the chart above shows a net gain from 2015 - 2021 of almost 100 elementary school students. If you go back to 2010, K-5 enrollment was 2,141 - not, as Ellie claims, 2,300. No credible projections to 2023 exist, so if we go just by what we have - 1,911 - we see that Corcoran's claim of "1,500" is wildly off the mark. 

Here is the high school chart: 

Actual HS enrollment in 2010 was 1,667. It is anticipated to drop to about 1,409 by 2021. That is not, as Ellie Corcoran suggests, a drop from "1,700 - 1,200" students, but from 1,660 to 1,400; but a drop of about 258 students

And the middle school: 

Corcoran suggests a 2010 - 2023 enrollment decrease here of "1,200 - 900" students. Actual 6-8 enrollment in 2010 was 1,211 students. Here, it is projected by 2021 to be 979 students, a drop of 232 students.    

As for overall district enrollment, the actual number in 2010 was 5,019. The revised projection for 2020-2021 is 4,299. That is a drop of 720 students over the course of 11 years; about 65 students per year. But if elementary school enrollment trends continue to be wildly in excess of the projections, that districtwide decrease will be much smaller come 2021. 

But look at the way she presents the data: she makes it seem as if the district of 5,000 kids is poised to lose as many as 5,200 students.  

  • The reality is that enrollment declines are stabilizing sooner than expected. 
  • The reality is that we lost 50 teachers since 2010 already. 
  • The reality is that there are fewer elective choices for students. 
  • The reality is that enrollment figures aren't nearly as dire as Corcoran would have you believe. 
  • The reality is that teachers and students have been forced to do more with less. 
  • The reality is that the current budget takes an influx of state cash and allocates it justly and equitably; 
  • The reality is that class sizes are too big for elementary students especially; 
  • The reality is that, while we received "more in state funds than ever before", the district has not been made whole. The state still owes us $70 million, which local taxpayers have had to make up to properly and adequately fund our district and avoid educational bankruptcy.
  • The reality is that the decrease in gasoline and natural gas prices has put more money in people's pockets and acted as a de facto tax cut that far exceeds any increase in school taxes.
  • The reality is that the Gap Elimination Adjustment was ended, not "restored", and there are still $20 million that the GEA has taken from the district that have not yet been restored, and we have not been made whole.
  • The reality is that a 3.11% tax cap is positive - it's because of town growth and growth is good. The tax levy (not tax rate) is increasing by 2.76%, which is less than the tax cap, and this is the third consecutive below-cap levy increase.
  • The reality is that local taxes have had to make up the $70 million in state aid that would have been due and owing had it not been for the Gap Elimination Adjustment.

The reality is this: 

and this: 

and this: 


POLLS ARE OPEN FROM 7am - 9pm at the HS Gymnasium, off Gunnville Rd.