Can’t Get There from Here:
A survey on school fiscal matters
The Council of School Superintendents conducted an online survey of its members on school fiscalmatters; 249 superintendents (40.4%) submitted complete responses. Partial responses from 47 superintendentswere also counted. Because their school budgets are not subject to voter approval, superintendents serving theBig 5 Cities and BOCES were not included in the survey. The Council conducted a similar survey in 2011.
52% of superintendents say their district
s financial condition is worse or significantly worsethan a year ago.
In 2011, 75% of superintendents said their districts’ condition had worsened.
The share of city
superintendents reporting their districts’ finan
cial condition is poor or very poor rose sharply, from 24% to 43%.
Reliance on reserves:
83% of superintendents are concerned or very concerned by their
district’s reliance on one
-time resources (reserves) to fund recurring costs. Without the use of fund balance this year, districts would haveneeded to raise taxes by 7 percent more than they actually did, or make cuts of corresponding magnitude.
: 9% of superintendents say that within two years, given current trends, their districts maybecome unable to ensure some financial obligations will ever be paid. This share would equate to roughly 60districts. Altogether 41% foresee reaching that condition within 4 years. North Country superintendents foreseethe most immediate threats.
18% of superintendents say that within two years, given current trends, their districts maybecome unable to fund all state and federal mandates for instruction and student services. 77% foresee reaching that condition, either within 4 years or beyond. Again, concern is most immediate in the North Country.
Districts reduced their workforce by an average of 3.9% this year, on top of 4.9% in 2011-12. Reductionswere generally steepest among city and rural districts and in non-teaching student support positions.
Salary and benefit concessions:
35% of superintendents report a cost saving agreement with their teacher unionthis year, the highest percentage in 3 years. 45% percent report agreeing to freeze their own salary or makeanother cost saving adjustment
as in 2011, this is a higher share than for any other employee category.
59% of districts increased class sizes this year, compared to 48% in 2011-12. 31% reducedsummer school. 31% reduced or deferred purchases of instructional technology
at a time when technology isseen as a key to improving outcomes and reducing costs.
2012-13 budget impact:
More than 40%
of superintendents said their district’s budget this year had a negative
impact on core elementary school instruction, extra help for students who need it, operations and maintenance,extracurricular activities, athletics, and administration
Tax levy cap:
67% of superintendents said that the new property tax levy cap led their district to adopt a spending level below what would have been done otherwise. 60% said the cap caused their adopted budget to have a morenegative impact on programs than would have otherwise occurred. 59% said the cap makes it more likely thatthey will be able to negotiate cost savings with their teacher union
or that it had already had that impact.
70% of superintendents said new requirements for teacher and principalevaluations will require their districts to spend significantly more than under prior practices. Professionaldevelopment (training) needs are seen as the biggest cost-driver followed by new student assessment costs. 40%of superintendents say teacher evaluations will now consume more than 40
% of a typical principal’s time, raising
concerns about how to balance other responsibilities.
Tax cap or state aid
which is a greater concern?:
Asked which is the greater financial concern for their districts
the tax levy cap or possible future state aid levels
44% picked state aid (up from 23% in 2011), 13% chose the taxcap (down from 25%), and 43% said they are of equal concern. In poorer upstate regions away from the HudsonRiver, only 5% of superintendents now pick the tax levy cap as the greater concern.
Priorities for mandate relief:
Superintendents’ top mandate relief priority is to amend
the Triborough law
increases after a collective bargaining agreement has expired. Actions to reduce health carecosts and stop unfunded mandates were other leading priorities.
Priorities for new spending:
As in 2011, providing more extra help for students who need it emerged as the toppriority should new funding become available.