Archives for the month of: March, 2013

School pension costs are set to increase 37 percent next school year, the state Teacher’s Retirement System quietly noted in a bulletin to districts this month. [up from 11.84% this year]

The increase is slightly less than the high end of the range estimated by the $80 billion fund in October. In October, the fund predicted that pension costs for the 2013-14 school year, which starts July 1, would grow to between 15.5% and 16.5% of payroll.

The actual rate, which was set this month, is 16.25%, the bulletin said.

School pension costs have soared in recent years because of the decline of Wall Street investments. A decade ago, schools paid nearly nothing into the fund, which has about 425,000 members and retirees.


Like Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who is the sole trustee of the $150 billion pension fund for state and local workers, the Teacher’s Retirement System is reviewing whether to support Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s pension-smoothing proposal. It would let schools and local governments pay a flat rate of 12.5 percent of payroll for pensions for the next 25 years, rather than deal with the annual ebb and flow.

School pension costs to rise 37 percent next year
Posted by Joseph Spector • February 13, 2013 • 9:41 am
Pension Contribution – 2013-2014 (pdf file)

Under New York’s Triborough Amendment, the only law of its kind in the country, union contracts negotiated during good times cannot be re-negotiated during bad times. Not unless the union agrees.

That is our situation in Irvington today. We are saddled with a legacy contract negotiated during the boom, and nearly all of the provisions agreed to by the board when home prices were rising 10% a year live on in the new contract. Meanwhile the district reports that taxable assessments are down 10%, and the data I’ve seen suggest that individual homes have lost 20% of their value since the crash. Some residents have lost jobs, and wage growth across the country slowed radically after 2007, which means wage growth slowed radically for many here as well.

But Triborough, the single largest mandate imposed upon school districts by the state, has meant that the district must continue to fund roughly 4% increases for school employees each year. Funding 4% annual increases when your own compensation is not rising — and your home value has dropped — is pretty much the definition of “unsustainable,” and that is why the tax cap passed.

In truth, it’s the contracts that need to be capped. Not the budgets. But since Albany does not have the wherewithal to repeal Triborough, the problem has been left to voters to address inside the privacy of the voting booth.

Worker pay 2011 and 2012 (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Worker Wages 2011 & 2012
“Most Americans are still far from the income they had before the crisis, and many of the new jobs are not particularly stable or high paying.”
After Cashing In on Job Cuts, Wall St. Looks to Worker Upturn
Published: March 10, 2013

Sticky wages in 2011 (CLICK TO ENLARGE)
Not your Father's bell curve - sticky wages

The tall bar in the middle represents workers who had a wage increase of $0 in 2011
People to the right of the bar had pay raises
People to the left of the bar had pay cuts
Why Has Wage Growth Stayed Strong?
By Mary Daly, Bart Hobijn, and Brian Lucking

IUFSD taxable assessments (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

3.5.2013 Taxable Assessments
Superintendent’s Proposed Budget
March 5, 2013

New York State School Board Association opposes Triborough, and Irvington’s BOE has voted to approve NYSSBA’s position.

Per pupil spending $28,517
ELA scores 12.18.2012
13 million jobs gap
Irvington Parents Forum at Yahoo
Irvington Union Free School District

Grade 8: 21% score 1 or 2


Grades 3-8 ELA 2012 FINAL
8th Grade Rankings - Student Performance Review 12.2012
High School English Regents 2.2012

Legend (top chart):

“As of July, 2010, NYSED updated its definitions for achievement levels. Lev1 is defined as “Below Standard”. Lev2 is defined as “Meets Basic Standard”. %Lev3 is defined as “Meets Proficiency Standard”. Lev4 is defined as “Exceeds Proficiency Standard”. See the NYSED web site for more information.”

Source: Student Performance Review
Presentation to the Board of Education
December 18, 2012

From 2008: “Irvington students, in fact, perform very well on standardized tests, especially in grades 3-8 where they scored at least in the 93rd percentile in ELA state standards.
From 2010: On New York School Tests, Warning Signs Long Ignored
Also from 2010: The Test Mess

All posts related to student achievement and test scores
INDEX of topics and posts
Per pupil spending $28,517

Until I attended the Common Core event at Hunter College last week, I knew very little about Common Core’s ELA standards. Now that I know more about Common Core’s requirement that students spend the majority of their time reading “informational text” in English class, I am opposed — although I do strongly support Common Core’s effort to replace personal narratives with textual analysis.

If seniors must spend up to 80% of their time reading reading, studying, and writing about informational text, that does not leave time for reading, studying, and writing about Great Expectations, say. And in fact, Common Core neglects British literature.

Below is a slide from a Common Core presentation in Orange, NJ. title: The Common Core State Standards: What You Need to Know.

Click image to enlarge
Common Core Informational Texts
How Common Core’s ELA Standards Place College Readiness at Risk
Truth in American Education (TAE)

2012-2013 Budget: $51,156,000
Enrollment as of 5/10/2013: 1,799
Per pupil spending: $28,436

UPDATE 5/11/2013
Proposed budget: $54,070,000
Enrollment as of 5/10/2013: 1,799
Per pupil spending: $30,056
3.5.2013 – Superintendent’s Proposed Budget – (Powerpoint)

Percent increase in per pupil spending: 5.7%

Enrollment back to 1977-1978
NOTE: Enrollment as of 3/4/2013: 1,794