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Partly Cloudy,55°
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Never enough school aid
George Rand

Although Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget includes and $800 million increase in education aid, Long Island’s teachers unions and school administrators are lobbying for more school funds. The goose that lays the golden eggs is no longer alive in Albany but the news apparently hasn’t yet reached the unions and school officials.

  New York’s statewide teachers union has filed a lawsuit to overturn the state’s property tax cap law which the union claims is unconstitutional.  What audacity! Gov. Cuomo should vigorously fight the union’s attempt to end the tax cap.  Obviously, the unions want the tax cap eliminated because it may limit the outrageous salary increases the teachers  unions negotiate with school boards.

  Rockville Centre’s school superintendent is playing a leading role in calling for higher state aid.  So how much did Rockville Centre residents pay their school superintendent last year?   The answer: $566,245.  That made him the highest paid school employee in the state.  The school chief said it included $300,000  from a retirement distribution so he doesn’t consider those big bucks out of line.  

  School taxes will continue to go up each year.  One factor that will drive up school taxes next year is the soaring cost of school pensions.  New York’s pension fund lost 20 percent of its value in the 2008 stock market downturn.  So who will be hit with the additional $600 million in teacher retirement costs next year?  The taxpayers, of course.

  Some businesses reimburse their employees’ tuition for courses they take related to their work.  But this a one time payment.  However, school districts pay teachers for education credits as salary increases which continue for their entire employment.  That results in big pay jumps when there are contractual salary increases.  

  A Long Island teacher  was reported to have completed 22 courses in one year.  Some were given education credits for visiting museums, reading articles, and taking courses on playing golf even though they were school employees who did not teach classes.  In a typical Nassau County school district, a teacher who currently earns $94,135  would get a raise in pay to $99,397 upon completing 15 education credits.   The raise usually gets compounded each year and gives a nice boost to the teacher’s retirement pension.

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