Per-pupil spending in the 669 school districts outside New York’s five largest cities will climb next year by 2.5 percent, nearly twice the projected inflation rate, according to an analysis released today by the Empire Center for Public Policy. The analysis also indicates that school districts’ per-pupil property tax levies will increase by 2.1 percent in 2015-16.
The School Budget Spotlightis the only statewide report focused on enrollment-adjusted changes in budgets proposed by districts that have submitted data for the State Education Department’s (SED) annual school property tax report cards. The School Budget Spotlight provides per-pupil proposed school spending and tax measures for every district in the state as reported to SED, arranged by county and summarized by region.
Western New York school districts are proposing the highest average increase, at 3.4 percent, while school districts in the Mohawk Valley region are proposing the lowest increase at just 1.5 percent, the School Budget Spotlight shows.
Tim Hoefer, executive director of the Empire Center and author of the School Budget Spotlight, noted that school report cards are projecting a slight drop of 0.6 percent in public school enrollments.
“Taxpayers are going to be spending more money to educate fewer children,” Hoefer said. “The property tax cap is doing a great job of controlling the growth of the burden on local taxpayers. But if we’re going hit the brakes on taxes once and for all, school districts need to do more—and mandate relief from Albany would help.”
The data also show that only 20 18 districts, just three percent of the total, reported proposed tax levies that exceed their property tax caps. Another 301 districts, or 45 percent, have proposed levies that come within $1,000 of their caps.
The Empire Center is a non-partisan, independent think tank located in Albany.