Year Seven Condition Reports, 2007-2008
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The real property tax is a highly visible and largely unpopular source of revenues for public schools in New York State. Policy makers face complaints from taxpayers about the burden of the tax and need up-to-date and accurate answers about the actual incidence of the tax. It is also important to understand the impact of property tax reforms, including the degree to which actual relief, if any, has been enjoyed by some taxpayers at the expense of additional burdens for other taxpayers. This study analyzes changes in overall distribution of tax payments by region, property class and other factors. It also assesses property tax burdens in the context of ability to pay by ranking all school districts into deciles by income per pupil and property value per pupil, and analyzing effective property tax rates within each decile. Finally, the authors consider the role of STAR, the School Tax Relief program that was implemented during the study period, and examine whether school district revenues from the program should be considered analogous to state aid or to property tax revenue for analytic purposes.
Charter schools are part of a broad movement in public education toward results-based accountability. Through the New York Charter School Act of 1998 (Article 56), charter schools began operating in New York. During the 2006-07 school year, 96 charter schools were in operation in 36 districts (including 23 sub-districts of New York City) with several more schools approved but not yet opened. Although charter schools have been in operation across the U.S. for nearly 15 years and in New York for ten, much of the current knowledge base is about the financing of charter schools, including state charter school finance systems, funding streams, and facilities funding, rather than financial management within these schools. This study explores the financial management of New York’s charter schools. The authors find that sound financial practices for charter schools involve generating resources, allocating resources, managing and reporting financial information, safeguarding resources, and managing specific functional areas (e.g., facilities). While the audits provide reasonable assurance that the schools' financial statements are free of material misstatement, many charter schools could take steps to better safeguard their resources by developing comprehensive written financial policies in general, and regarding inventory and competitive bidding specifically.
Teacher collective bargaining agreements (teacher contracts) represent one of the most important school district contractual obligations. Despite their potential impact on district budgets and human resource practices, relatively little research has examined the contents of teacher contracts across a large sample of school districts. The few studies that have examined a broad array of contract provisions find significant variation in some provisions and not in others. This study documents the contents of teacher contracts for a large and representative sample of New York school districts. While the purpose of this study is primarily descriptive, the contract database could help facilitate future research on how contract provisions affect school district budgets and teacher labor market decisions.
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