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Carlucci: Schools Need Mandate Relief

Rockland’s NYS senator’s will introduce a relief package to help schools reduce costs and better cope with the impact of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed property tax cap.

Senator David Carlucci’s and the Independent Democratic Caucus announced a plan that allows regional collective bargaining agreements, increased flexibility in purchasing contracts and removing existing barriers to consolidating healthcare services across jurisdictions.

‘€œThese common sense solutions will allow school districts to make the best use of their financial resources without treating our taxpayers like limitless cash machines,’€ says Carlucci. “It’s time to put aside the explosive rhetoric and work as a team with our educators and school administrators to do more with less.”

Carlucci proposal includes:

  • Allowing regional collective bargaining: The new legislation, if approved, will let neighboring districts share information and jointly negotiate future contracts. Each of the nearly 700 school districts in New York now negotiate their own collective bargaining agreements.
  • Increase flexibility in purchasing contracts: New rules will let school districts “piggy back” on favorable contractual purchasing conditions outside New York.  According to the New York State School Boards Association, purchasing rule reform can save New York taxpayers up to $2 billion a year.
  • Free up excess reserve funds: School districts have collected $407 million more than was needed to fund employee benefit accrued liabilities. Schools are currently prohibited from using any excess reserve funds for other purposes. The Independent Democratic Caucus wants regulations loosened so excess money can be used to pay off one-time expenses like capital projects and outstanding debt.
  • Breaking down barriers to shared services: Make it easier for schools and other municipalities to eliminate duplicative expenses for healthcare administration.

Despite granting schools more control over their costs, school critics weren’t mollified by the IDC proposal. “Carlucci’s changes are distractions from the real financial issues,” says Rick Tannenbaum, a Valley Cottage parent and a frequent critic of Nyack Schools’ administration. “The only thing that the teachers’ union should be able to collectively bargain is wages. Contributions to pensions, contributions to health insurance and the quality of those plans should be set statewide.”

Nyack School district officials didn’t respond to a request for comment on Carlucci’s press release on Monday.

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