State punishes efficient districts like Auburn

2012-01-31T03:00:00Z State punishes efficient districts like Auburn Auburn Citizen
January 31, 2012 3:00 am

The Auburn school board has held two meetings to date regarding the 2012-2013 budget. The last meeting held on Thursday, Jan.19 was well attended. We invited all our union leaders, PTO representatives, school booster groups, SROs, community members, etc. I would like to thank them all for attending and contributing to the dialogue. We also invited our state representatives. Unfortunately, the only one to send a representative was Assemblyman Gary Finch. Sen. Mike Nozzolio is having his own meeting on Friday, Feb. 3, mid-morning, while most people are working. But I am going to attend, because I was invited, and frankly, we are not getting through to our local elected senators (the majority that control the Senate), that high-performing, low-cost, low-wealth, high-need districts (the majority of local upstate districts) are not getting a fair share of the state education money. We all understand that the state is in financial trouble. Our school board, along with all others in our area, are the hatchet people executing the cuts brought on by the lack of state funding. We are dismantling the public education system, and based on the future state funding forecast for education, there is not going to be much left for our children.

As you can tell, this funding deficit is really bothering me. The more facts I gather, the worse it gets. I want it to bother you also. We need to ask our legislators to represent us. I am extremely frustrated and angry that our children are being put at a disadvantage by our state. I kept asking myself why is Auburn in such dire straights? So, I went to the Statewide School Finance Consortium website; took the data for all New York state school districts, and crunched the data. The Auburn district average cost per student for the 2011-2012 year is $15,137.81. We are the 27th lowest cost district out of more than 700 districts in New York state. Yes, Auburn is the 27th lowest cost district in New York state, and we are being penalized by New York state for being efficient and high performing. We do not have room to cut more costs without impacting our students’ future. The state should be asking us how we became efficient and high performing, instead of putting us out of business. I urge you to contact our representatives. Our children deserve equity in the state funding formula.


Jason Lesch


Lesch is a member of the Auburn Enlarged City School District Board of Education

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(8) Comments

  1. patchwork
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    patchwork - February 07, 2012 8:11 am
    Hmmmm after looking at the school superintendent compensation list on the sate ed site, it appears at least by my calculations, that our superintendent has a pay/benefit package that is exceeded by only 177 other districts in the state. Now if we have over 700 districts and according to Mr Lesch, we are the 27th lowest cost along with being a very low wealth district, a logical question would be, why is our super's pay/benefit package in the top 25%? How many of those higher paid are in larger districts? How many are located downstate where all wages are higher? It just doesn't add up to what I would consider an efficient district.
  2. patchwork
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    patchwork - February 06, 2012 7:13 pm
    Yes Auburntaxpayer, something has to give. Do the salaries paid out, reflect the resources of a "low wealth" district? For example,is our superintendent the 27th lowest paid in the state? He better be, because if we are the 27th lowest cost district and if he is compensated more, then a larger percentage of our budget is going to him than need be,and is being done at the expense of student programs. It comes down to priorities and living within your means. The biggest part of the budget is labor and those labor agreements need to reflect the "wealth" of the district. I'm just trying to figure out how almost a quarter million dollar pay/benefit package for just one person fits into our 27th lowest cost position.
  3. AuburnTaxpayer
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    AuburnTaxpayer - February 06, 2012 2:25 pm
    Auburn is the 27th lowest cost district in the state. That's pretty powerful-please research how Mr. Lesch came to that conclusion before you judge. We have a diverse socio-economic population in Auburn. We have a low wealth tax base. We have relatively low property values. The district is doing a whole lot with less and less resources, but that cannot be sustained forever. Something has to give. The state is not fairly distributing education aid to upstate low wealth districts like Auburn. Prospective business and home owners will stay away if schools are not good. People want to live where they can get a high quality education for their children. This issue affects all of us who live and work here, and our future, and our children's future.
  4. gramma4
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    gramma4 - February 05, 2012 7:33 am
    Jason, I understand you are an accountant, therefore, I would expect you to have a better awareness of long range planning and accountability. To say that the Auburn district is "efficient" and high performing" and so out of touch with reality it is sad. Since the recession started in 2007 the board has consistently voted to tax and spend without any thought to watching the economy and "planning" on the "worse case" in order to be prepared for cutbacks from the state. So a bloated $19 mil cap project was pushed through, which you voted for, and now the board wants to point the finger at the state and put the blame on it. I work in the financial industry & we have closely watched the economy and taken the steps to keep our loses low and remain financially solvent and the long range planning has reflected this. The school distrist should have done the same thing. Instead,the district didn't exercise due dilegence and is now faced with a $6 mil deficientm so don't blame the state.
  5. octoberic
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    octoberic - February 01, 2012 11:38 am
    Efficient? Punish? Wow. That's almost too funny. How is Auburn an efficient district? We have Administrators that peform poorly, in my opinion, we have more students dropping out of school or enrolling in Vocational programs at BOCES. Mr. Pabis said it himself, enrollment is down. The quality of teaching and test grading is extremely poor and Auburn did not peform well with audits. How, Mr. Lesch, is this efficient in any possible definition of the word?
    This district is borderline satisfactory at best. We try to set education standards but setting the bar and performing at or beyond it are two different things. It takes students that learn properly to perform the work. This is hard to do when some teachers care more for their pay, benefits, and tenure than they do the mins they're suppose to enhance. Why is it that only students and parents see these flaws but administration does not? Justice is blind and love is blind... education is NOT but educators are, obviously!!!
  6. octoberic
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    octoberic - January 31, 2012 10:12 am
    Well gosh unc... that's what I was going to say. Almost literally...
  7. jlmorgansr
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    jlmorgansr - January 31, 2012 7:58 am
    I have to agree with you patchwork, Mr Lesch, is delusional. This district is anything but efficient! Poor audit reports, using federal money wrong, bloated salaries and administrative positions that aren't needed, are but a few of this districts problems. Each and every year NYS gave millions of dollars in increased aide to our district, and they spent it like there was no tomorrow, not on programs mind you but on extended contracts and raises for administrators, who suffers? Why the kids of course. Now band and sports and more lay offs can be expected. JD Pabis and his board refuses to take ownership of our fiscal problems instead they blame the state. Are you kidding me? NYS has a multi billion dollar deficit they are trying to deal with, and the board and Pabis knew it. They were not pro active, they are reactive. They have gutted the educational integrity of our district. That should be a crime.
  8. patchwork
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    patchwork - January 31, 2012 6:41 am
    Yes Mr Lesch is correct that the state funding is not equitable, but those arguments are nothing new and a push may get a small increase,but it will not be nearly enough to solve our financial problems. One can whine all they want that they don't get enough in aid, but at some point decisions have to be made based on the reality that we just don't have the resources to pay out the wage/benefit packages that Mr Lesch has approved and has done so well after he knew that we were facing an economic hardship. The labor agreements do not reflect the affordability of the area and are the number 1 cost of operating. Last year several district froze pays, but not here. The time has come for a rollback on wages across the board or face what could very well be an extremely difficult year for our children in the district. Our administration has to learn to live within their means and financial limitations and should be first in rolling back their wages...for the future of our kids.
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