In light of the fact that the NY 2014–15 state budget allocated more aid for education than the original GEA would provide and that the building aid to the Malverne district increased significantly, I sent the following letter to the Malverne BOE. Feel free to copy the text, edit it and send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear Malverne BOE member,
In May, the district residents are going to vote on the budget and a board trustee. In addition, they are supposed to vote on the following three propositions:
Spend $1.6M and close the current Capital Reserve Fund
Establish and fund a Capital Reserve Fund II (RCF) in the amount of $10M for a probable length of 10 years.
Fund Repair Reserve Fund
The money in the capital fund cannot be spent on any other purpose, ex. operations. Yet, it’s the ever increasing cost of instruction and operations that represent a much bigger problem. So, while it’s understandable the administrators intend to use the new CRF as a means that should help them maintain the district finances as strong as possible, they need to explain the mechanism how exactly that tool would be used within the entire budget in the years to come. At a first glance, there is no clear benefit in having $10M allocated to build or repair facilities, or purchase more buses and at the same time reducing number of periods and classes, eliminating teams and field trips.
The administrators have to make a strong case for their decision to open a new capital fund. They have to explain to you, Malverne BOE member, and to the residents how their tool will overcome the GEA and 2% tax cap law. These measures were set intentionally by Albany three years ago. They effectively curb the instructional and operational expenses, but not capital expenses. The 2014-15 NY state budget proved that politicians in Albany are in concert and are not going to change the policy in near future.
The administrators need to persuade you and residents that living for a decade in a hope of policy change while using the capital fund as a tool to avoid insolvency has a chance at all. They may use the capital reserve fund (CRF) currently in effect as an example. They can explain how dispensing the funds were helping so far. Using the 2% tax cap formula, they can present their vision how the CRF will be integrated into the annual budgets. They also need to address other variables, ex. salary increases and bonuses.
Only after fully understanding how the mechanism of CRF works the residents can make an informed decision on the propositions.
Jan Kasal, Malverne resident and school board candidate