Letter: School districts need relief from unfunded state mandates

Editor, The Spotlight:

School Budgets Increasing! Property taxes rising! 

How can we put an end to this spiraling, out-of control mess? We can put an end to this mess by recognizing one significant reason school budgets are out of control.

New York State has overburdened school districts with mandates that are not funded or that are not funded in their entirely (underfunded). A local school district must figure out a way to pay for each State mandate. Most of the times, the only way to finance these expenditures is to raise property taxes. That is what has been happening and will continue to happen under the present system! - Unless we do something to halt the practice.

School Boards do not have the authority to decide whether their district can afford a mandate or decide if a mandate is good for their district. The State through various State laws and regulations, mandates that School Districts perform many tasks. They occur in the realm of educational programs for our children and also in reporting, administrative tasks, staffing expenses, personnel evaluations and construction. In the past several years, approximately 60 new unfunded mandates have extended the budget, and these add to the already existing mandates. 

The Board of Education in the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake School District has recognized the problem presented by unfunded/underfunded mandates; and on February 14th, took another step toward combating this problem. The Board approved a Resolution “Opposing Unfunded and Under-funded State Mandates”. This Resolution will be sent to the Governor and to NYS legislative representatives. The Resolution requests mandate relief from NY State. Simply put, the Resolution requests that the State pay for the programs they mandate.

Thank you, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, for your concern for tax payer dollars. Every school district should consider the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake example, and citizens should encourage their school districts to do so. Already, approximately 35 school districts have approved Unfunded Mandate Relief Resolutions, so why not every school district! A united front is what is needed to get New York State to listen. 

Email Teddi Smith at tea7077@aol.com for information of how you can get a Resolution approved in your school district.

Teddi Smith


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