May 13, 2012

School-funding debate gets divisive

Even a cursory perusal of the newspaper's Letters to the Editor reminds us of one thing. It's school budget and board election time again.

We have for four years now witnessed the division of national politics. We now see divisions hardening within our communities.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo produced a feat many thought impossible. After years of institutionalized budget increases for schools, he knocked some legislative heads together and produced a 2 percent cap on increases in school taxes.

There are some modifiers, which can result in a higher rate if there are certain capital projects that must be funded or a lower effective cap than 2 percent in other cases where there may be some payments in lieu of taxes.

However, the overwhelming number of school boards across this state managed to cobble together budgets that respected the caps. Only the rare boards proposed budgets in excess. Some of those districts are in our region.

Such school boards offer arguments that have little to do with public finance or economics. Board members appeal to our love of our children and to the fact that a 5 percent tax increase still amounts to less than the cost of a beer or deluxe cup of coffee every day. The emotional argument goes something like this: Isn't the education of our children worth a cup of coffee?

Of course. Taxpayers in New York already spend more per child than the residents of any other state, or for that matter, more than the average spending per child in any other country. I believe many of us would pay even more if we were convinced the additional expenditure guaranteed our children a rich education that would ensure their success.

But the issue is not the cost of a cup of coffee.

What the proponents of additional education spending fail to articulate is the value proposition. They have not convinced taxpayers that the highest level of education spending in this state, and across the globe, is buying the best education.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • colin_read.jpg Good organizations lack drama

    Groups that accomplish their objectives do so with a minimum of distraction and politics, focusing instead on creativity and a dynamic vision, according to columnist Colin Read.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Parking fines a short-sighted policy

    Tourists should be encouraged to do business downtown without fear of getting tickets, according to columnist Colin Read.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Technical training a key part of education

    Recently honored, Champlain Valley Educational Services offers meaningful careers for those not heading for college, according to columnist Colin Read.

    July 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Constitution withstands test of time

    The nation's founding document is a delicate balance that we should continue to nurture, according to columnist Colin Read.

    July 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg This region helped shape a new nation

    As we celebrate our nation's history, we must also appreciate the key role the North Country played in the founding of two countries, according to columnist Colin Read.

    June 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Diversity of views a key to progress

    With today's mobile society and 24-hour media, like-minded people tend to congregate together stifling diversity of opinion, according to columnist Colin Read.

    June 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Local heros needed to inspire us all

    It takes individual talent and initiative to truly move a community forward to fulfill its economic destiny, according to columnist Colin Read.

    June 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Fee on carbon needed

    Creating incentives to curb emissions is critical to containing climate change, according to columnist Colin Read.

    May 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Governor inspires renewed shared-services effort

    Tax-cap plan has provided incentives for municipalities to get together to try and increase savings and efficiency, according to columnist Colin Read.

    May 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Pipeline issue has no simple answer

    If Alberta oil is not transported through Keystone, it will cause more pollution to send it to China, according to columnist Colin Read.

    May 11, 2014 1 Photo