CASDA resurrected its Capital Area School Board Institute series and conducted the first of a three-part program called “The Tax Cap: Understanding It, Dealing With It, Communicating About It”. Questar III and Capital Region BOCES are co-sponsoring the series.
The series is designed to help school administrators and boards of education understand and prepare for New York’s impending property tax levy cap.
In June 2011, state legislators enacted a law that placed new restrictions on how school districts can increase tax levies. Though the action was meant to provide property tax relief to New Yorkers, it does so at the expense of already struggling school districts.
Schools now face the daunting task of keeping taxes low despite escalating costs, declining state aid and rising expectations for teaching and learning.
The tax cap levy has been called the “2 percent tax cap” — an unfortunate misnomer. Schools will have the ability to raise taxes beyond 2 percent but will need 60 percent voter approval.
CASDA’s Tax Cap Dinner provided participating school leaders with clarity about the law and important messages they can convey to their communities that will help schools to avoid looking like the villain. A major theme of the evening was “transparency” and how best to help the local media, community leaders and the general public to understand what the tax cap will mean to public education and why support is necessary to effectively educate students.
Participants were encouraged to use new methods of communication including social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to keep shape the conversation and promote a real time back-and-forth with the community.
The series will continue with programs scheduled for January and June.