New York school districts holding budget referendums next week plan to spend an average of $31,929 per student, according to a new analysis from the Empire Center.
The data, collected as part of the state Education Department’s Property Tax Report Card and visualized as part of the Empire Center’s annual School Budget Spotlight, detail spending plans for 666 districts that will go before voters on May 16. One-sixth of those districts (111) plan to spend at least $40,000 per student, and 31 plan to spend at least $50,000.
In total, the districts are on track to have increased per-pupil spending by 45 percent over the past 10 years, one and a half times the rate of inflation during that time.
Despite receiving record-setting levels of state aid in the just-enacted state budget, districts are poised to also increase property tax levies an average of 2 percent.
The largest proposed increase is in the North Country’s Chateaugay Central School District, which plans to increase its levy by 22 percent. Four other districts—Montauk (19 percent), Roscoe (12 percent), Town of Webb (11 percent) and Blind Brook-Rye (11 percent)—have proposed property tax levy increases over 10 percent.
Fifteen districts plan to override the property tax cap, meaning they need 60 percent of voters to approve the budget. In another 276 districts, the proposed property tax levy comes within $1,000 of the district’s property tax cap, indicating property taxes would likely have risen higher in the absence of the cap.
The largest proposed reduction is in Long Island’s William Floyd Union Free School District, which plans to cut its levy by 17 percent. Ten other districts proposed smaller tax levies than last year’s, and another 92 districts plan to keep their tax levy unchanged.
Federal data show New York spends 89 percent more per-pupil on K-12 education than the national average, and 36 percent more than Massachusetts.
Property Tax Report Card data do not include the “Big 5” school districts (New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers, Syracuse) which do not hold budget referendums. The analysis excludes two districts that filed incomplete data (Green Island and Bolivar-Richburg).
The Empire Center, based in Albany, is an independent, not-for-profit, non-partisan think tank dedicated to promoting policies that can make New York a better place to live, work and raise a family.