Even one of the nation’s richest communities has not been spared painful school budget cuts.In Bronxville, N.Y., a leafy Manhattan suburb, elected officials are caught in a tug-of-war between those who vociferously oppose any tax increases and those who want to maintain the high-quality public education that sets their wealthy enclave apart, the New York Times reports.
Now some frustrated residents are directing their ire at generous teacher compensation and benefits.
From the NYT:
“Most family incomes in Bronxville, about 15 miles north of Midtown Manhattan, are in the six and seven figures, ranking the village among the wealthiest enclaves in America. But even an additional $100 to $200 tacked on, in a village where the typical homeowner already pays $43,000 in annual property taxes, has met enough resistance to make town officials think twice.
Some residents argue that the town should be more businesslike, cutting other costs to offset the outlay for smaller classes. Peter P. Pulkkinen is one. A 40-year-old investment banker, he and his wife, Sarah, moved here in 2004 from the Upper East Side and their two oldest children are now in the first and third grades. He wants small classes for them. But rather than raise taxes, he would restrict teacher compensation— particularly their benefits.
Displaying a sheaf of charts and projections that he and a friend prepared for a school board meeting, Mr. Pulkkinen said in an interview that if property taxes continued to rise in Bronxville at roughly the trajectory of the last decade, they would double by 2020 — and by 46 per cent in the unlikely event the “austerity budgets” of the last two years continued through the decade. “I think it is a false paradigm to have to choose between radically diminished services or exponentially higher taxes,” he said, “without first addressing the structural issue of teacher compensation.”
…The cost of health insurance and pensions for teachers and other school employees is $6 million, or nearly 14 per cent of the $43 million budget, up from $2.1 million in 2000-1, or 9 per cent of that budget. The pension portion alone — a mandatory payment to the New York State pension fund — is projected to be $3 million in the coming school year, or 7 per cent of the proposed school budget. Teachers and other village employees, nearly all of them unionized, pay only a small amount of this cost. Property tax revenue covers almost the entire outlay, and this at a moment when the pension will have risen by nearly 25 per cent in the three years through June, according to the superintendent’s office.”
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