Public pre-K through grade 12 education in New York State is bound to numerous federal and state regulations, many of which carry significant costs in time and money. The New York State Education Department has identified 151 categories of federal and state mandates, most of which represent many individual regulations, each carrying a cost.
Even while public funding for education has been cut over the past several years, these unfunded mandates continue to grow. This ever-increasing burden is not fair to taxpayers who continue to see increases in school taxes just to keep up with these requirements. Lawmakers at the state and federal level need to take action to reform existing and limit additional oppressive regulations that sap much needed resources from our community and the services we could otherwise deliver to our students. Some examples of educational mandates in need of reform include:
- Special Education Regulations – No one should be surprised that we must spend more money to educate our children with special needs, but there are literally hundreds of regulations that direct the delivery of special education services and supporting activities and all carry costs
- Wicks Law – This state law requires separate bidding on large publicly funded construction projects for general contractors, electrical, HVAC and plumbing. While the intent of this law is good – to avoid conflict of interest in the awarding of contracts – there are better, more cost effective ways of ensuring a fair and ethical bidding process
- Charter Schools – For each student in a district that attends a charter school, the district must make a payment to the charter school and give up state aid associated with that student. Changes in charter school enrollment on a year-to-year basis make it difficult for school districts to budget. The loss of a few students in a given year has little to no cost savings for the district.
The New York State School Boards Association has developed a platform of 17 mandates that our state’s politicians and educational leaders should prioritize when looking for ways to provide our school districts with the cost benefits of mandate relief. New York’s executive and legislative leadership must avoid institution of new unfunded mandates and roll back existing mandates to provide financial relief to its school districts.