Arthur Rublin, Chair of the Coalition for Scarsdale Schools and a Donellan Road resident has been active in fighting a potential NYS tax cap. The Coalition believes that the tax cap would cause radical changes to Scarsdale’s educational program and has been instrumental in working with other communities to get the message to Albany.
The Coalition for Scarsdale Schools was originally formed to protest a potential increase in class size caps for the 2011-12 school year. They gathered over 700 signatures on a petition to maintain small class sizes and the Scarsdale School Board ultimately agreed. Now they have turned their efforts toward the tax cap issue.
In their view, “The proposed tax cap legislation has the potential to devastate education. The costs of unfunded mandates are rising at rates well above inflation, and local Boards of Education cannot reduce them. As a result, the proposed tax cap legislation would force localities to cut in the limited areas where they do have control.
Three broad areas are subject to control by local Boards of Education:
- Salaries and benefits other than retirement. A Board of Education can exert long-term control over salary trends but may not have the power to affect salaries in any one year if contracts are already in place.
- Educational Program. Course and program offerings in academic subjects and the arts, class size, athletics, and other extra-curricular activities. Meaningful cost reductions in these areas hurt students.
- Building Maintenance. Building and grounds upkeep and maintenance. Meaningful cost reductions in these areas lead to safety and maintenance problems and ultimately to bond issues.
In sum, the proposed tax cap legislation would impose artificial limits on decisions that require and deserve a community’s deliberation and considered judgment.”
At the May 23 Scarsdale Board of Education Meeting, Rublin read the following statement to the Board and the community:
I wanted to update the Board on the efforts of the Coalition for Scarsdale Schools to act in support of the position paper the Board adopted on January 24th of this year on the idea of a state-imposed cap on school district tax levies, and in response to President Spieler’s welcome call for community members to make their voices heard on the issue.
The Coalition for Scarsdale Schools has developed a close partnership with a counterparty grassroots organization in Chappaqua with an initial focus on the tax cap legislation passed by the New York State Senate and advocated for by Governor Cuomo.
Our Chappaqua counterparty, which has changed its name to the Coalition for Chappaqua Schools, signed on last night to a statement that the Coalition for Scarsdale Schools proposed which tracks virtually verbatim the Position Paper that you as a Board issued in late January, save for technical revisions, for example clarifying that our opposition is to the Governor’s hard tax cap legislation, not necessarily to any and all tax cap proposals.
The Coalitions for Scarsdale Schools and Chappaqua Schools are now very hard at work reaching out to School Districts, School Boards, PT Councils, PTAs, and other community groups throughout Westchester and Putnam to obtain support for our statement, that is essentially the Scarsdale School Board’s January Position Paper.
The responses we have received in just our first day of outreach are very encouraging. The Superintendent in Chappaqua, John Chambers, indicated that he likes the proposed joint statement and is happy to ask Chappaqua’s Board of Education to consider it. The President of the Chappaqua Board, Janet Benton, indicated she is nervous about the tax cap legislation’s status and plans to raise the statement with her Board tomorrow night for discussion, and may bring it to a vote as early as tomorrow night.
The District Offices in Byram Hills and Yorktown have also signaled support for our statement and our efforts.
As I believe you know, our work complements the efforts of the New York State League of Women Voters, the New York State PTA, the New York School Boards Association, NYSUT, county officials like Rob Astorino, and Mayors like Noam Bramson of New Rochelle, with whom we had a very good conversation today.
We welcome any support that the Board and Administration determine they can provide to further the Board’s January 24th position paper and President Spieler’s and Vice President Guggenheimer’s welcome advocacy efforts in Albany and in the District on the tax cap legislation. Specifically, we would welcome support by the Board for the statement tracking the Board’s tax cap position paper, which we expect other Districts to sign onto as soon as tomorrow night. It appears that collective effort on the critical tax cap issue may be pivotal as we enter the final four weeks before the legislative session in Albany adjourns.