Archives for the month of: May, 2013

No one seems to know why the district had a sudden spike in Kindergarten enrollment this school year (2012-2013).

In any event, 2007 saw the highest number of births in the history of the United States, and those children began entering school last fall.

Then the crash hit, and it’s been downhill ever since. What a calamity our protracted depression has been, in every possible way.

Births: Final
2006 4,265,555 +3%
2007 4,316,233 +1%
2008 4,247,694 -2%
2009 4,130,665 -3%
2010 3,999,386 -3%
2011 3,953,590 -1%
2012 3,952,841
2013 3,932,181

Final Data for 2006 (NVSS)
Births: Final Data for 2007 (ABSTRACT)
Births: Final Data for 2007 (NVSS)
Births: Final Data for 2008 (NVSS)
Births: Final Data for 2009 (NVSS)
Births: Final Data for 2010 (NVSS)

Recent Trends in Births and Fertility Rates Through June 2011
Births: Final Data for 2011 (NVSS)
Births: Final Data for 2012 (NVSS)
Births: Final Data for 2013 (NVSS)
Births in the United States, 2014

16 new houses, not 50
Enrollment back to 1978

I received an email the other day suggesting that IUFSD does such a good job educating children with special needs that we have more SPED students than surrounding towns.

Speaking as the parent of two children with special needs, I’ve never heard this view from other parents of SPED kids regardless of where they lived — and given that the special-ed world for kids with severe challenges is quite small, I think I would have heard it if parents of children with disabilities were moving to Irvington in disproportionate numbers.

Below are NYSED data for SPED enrollment in 2011-2012.

In terms of special education, one thing it’s important to look at is how many children are identified as SPED after moving here.

I’ll come back to that later.

All Westchester
County districts
Percent of 
Total Public
& Nonpublic
School Students
in Special
Rye City 4.4% 4.4%
Bronxville 6.6%
Bedford 7.9%
Dobbs Ferry 7.3%
Scarsdale 7.9%
Tarrytown 8.0%
Blind Brook 8.1%
Greenburgh 8.3%
White Plains 8.8%
Eastchester 9.4%
Mamaroneck 9.6%
Rye Neck 9.6%
Pocantico Hills 9.8%
New Rochelle 9.9%
Harrison 10.0%
Briarcliff 10.4%
North Salem 10.5%
Pelham 10.5%
Ardsley 10.7%
Chappaqua 10.8%
Hendrick Hudson 11.4%
Elmsford 11.5%
Byram Hills 11.6%
Hastings 11.6%
Portchester-Rye 11.6%
Somers 11.6%
Irvington 11.7%
Ossining 11.7%
Yorktown 11.8%
Valhalla 11.9%
Edgemont 12.0%
Croton-Harmon 12.3%
Tuckahoe 12.5%
Katonah-Lewisboro 12.8%
Yonkers 13.0%
Mount Pleasant 14.7%
Lakeland 15.0%
Peekskill 15.7%
Mount Vernon 16.1%

Search Results for Westchester County | NYSED
NYSED Special Education School District Data Profile for 2011-2012


Kris Harrison became superintendent in fall 2012.

As of May 25, 2015, Irvington High School’s enrollment in special education stood at 27% (see pages 2 & 17). So we’ve gone from roughly 12% of students in SPED (already very high) to 27% in the first 3 years of Kris Harrison’s tenure here. The new SPED population doesn’t consist of students who’ve just moved here; it consists of students who have always been here.

They’ve been classified as ‘SPED’ well after their early years in the district.

Something is wrong. It’s certainly true that some mental illnesses first appear in adolescence, and students in this situation may well need special education services.

But these numbers are too high regardless.

I’ve fact-checked the numbers with the high school principal twice. The Powerpoint figures are correct.

That leaves three possibilities.

a) The district is failing to identify learning disabilities and other issues when children enter school, as the district is ethically and legally required to do.

b) Parents are voting with their feet. They are moving their children to the protection and the direct instruction they hope will be provided by a special education classification. 

c) Parents are gaming the College Board. It’s extremely difficult to get extra time on the SAT for a child who hasn’t been in special education since the early years, but parents may not know that.

Enrollment back to 1978

The “fund balance” is the budget surplus, sometimes called a “rainy day” fund. By definition, it is money listed in the budget that is not designated to pay for programs. Districts have been advised to use the fund balance to stay within the tax cap, and in the May 2013 election 97% of NY districts did so. IUFSD chose to break the cap in order to keep its fund balance at the maximum allowable under the law — while borrowing $3.5 million to pay tax certs.

Year Fund  balance (budget surplus) Percent of budget
2008-2009 $1,949,375 3.85%
2009-2010 $2,040,362 4%
2011-2012 $2,012,995 4%
2012-2013 $2,046,240 4%
2013-2014 $2,162,800 4%
Amount by which 2013-2014 budget overrides tax cap $1,277,756




Last Friday, Congress’ failure to reach an alternative approach resulted in the sequestration of all federal spending. That means a 5.3% cut to all federal education spending next year, including Title I and IDEA special education funds. On a fiscal year basis, it amounts to a 9% cut. Across the state, NYSSBA estimates an impact to schools of over $100 million.

Watcha Doing This Weekend | NYSSBA

NYSSBA’s estimate of the cut to IUFSD: $21,419.

The district’s $2 Million surplus
Total Sequestration Cuts Including New York City | NYSSBA
$21,491: NYSSBA estimate of sequester cut to IUFSD

Though it was originally billed as a 2 percent property tax cap, the formula for calculating local levy limits is complex and provides exceptions for specific sorts of spending. The average levy limit this year was 5.1 percent, compared with 3.5 percent last year.


Some 97 percent of proposed budgets relied on reserve funds to help stay within the cap without cutting educational programs and services next year, according to a NYSSBA analysis. In all, districts expected to use $1.3 billion in reserves.

Exceeding tax cap proves big risk
On Board Online • May 27, 2013
Budget votes
By Cathy Woodruff

Irvington UFSD did not use its $2 million-dollar fund balance to stay within the cap.

IUFSD Fund Balance (Property Report Card)
Only 4% of districts try to break tax cap
Singapore Math explains the budget

Increasing achievement for all students

Post in progress…

I don’t understand the relevant passage from the contract; will finish this post when I do:

Schedule “E” will be in effect from July 1, 2013 until June 30, 2014, increase of 1.75%. In addition, all Association members shall be ineligible to receive step increment in the 2013-2014 school year until February 1, 2014.

My question:

Does this clause mean that teachers will receive only half of the full step increase, or that payment of the full increase is delayed for several months?

UPDATE: I’ve heard from someone who should know that next year teachers receive half of the full step increase.

Still fact-checking.

Here are the raises a hypothetical IUFSD teacher who began working in the district last fall (in Column 3) would receive over the next three years of the contract.

By way of comparison, the highest raise an employee of IBM receives is 3.5%, and those raises are based in merit.

Core PCE inflation is currently at 1.26%.

Step Salary
w/o benefits
1/2 of
Step raise
2012-2013 1  $56,585
2013-2014 2  $60,051  -1733 ??
2014-2015 3  $63,628
2015-2016 4  $67,314

2012-2013 Step 1 Column 32013-2014 Step 2 6.12% raise2014-2015 Step 3 6% Column 32015-2016 Step 4 5.8% Column 3
Click images to enlarge

Screen grabs from CONTRACT | SALARY SCHEDULE | 2009-10 THRU 2005-16 | 5.24.2013

Raises and benefits at IBM
IUFSD teachers have not had a wage “freeze” 
“Column” raises for teachers explained
4 is not 2
5/2013: Inflation at 1.26%
7th grade reading curriculum (curriculum & property values)
What people who do not have children in the schools pay to educate
..the children of people who do

Grados: we will need to go over the tax cap next year
How we got here
2012 budget vote
All student achievement scores & posts
Irvington Parents Forum at Yahoo

A parent’s explanation of bullet voting:

Bullet voting is an option in any election in which more than one seat is open and voters can cast two or more ballots. These situations tend to occur in school board and city council elections.

Bullet voting makes sense in elections in which a voter’s favorite candidate has a shot at getting the last open seat but isn’t likely to win the first seat.

Let¹s say, for example, that at the time you and 10 of your fellow Ms. A supporters get to the voting station, Mr. B is leading Ms. A by 4 votes for the second seat. The eleven of you are the last citizens to vote. If all of you vote for both Ms. A and Mr. B, he will maintain his four-vote lead and win the second seat. But if all 11 of you vote for Ms. A alone (that is, 11 votes for her and none for Mr. B), you would erase her 4-vote deficit and give her a 7-vote lead over Mr. B. In that case, Ms. A would win the second seat.

The scenario would be different if you were convinced that Ms. A is a shoo-in for the first seat. In that case, you’d want to use your second vote to help either Mr. B beat out Ms. C for the second seat.

If you can’t count on Ms. A coming in first, and you don’t think she has a lock on the second seat, either, you should probably bullet vote for her.

Source: Irvington Parents Forum

Click to enlarge
5.21.2013 Official Vote Count

Montgomery Grados Oster Graeber Write-in
Robyne Camp
machine votes
891 575 771 558  6
Total absentee
27 26 31 21 22 17  1
votes cast
1027 659 922 596 793 575  7




@@@@@ 1027 + 659 = 1686


65 votes

33 votes needed to vote no

33 abstentions


Machine/Absentee Ballots 1,719
Approximately Possible Voters 6,400
Total Voters – 5/21/13 1,719
Total Budget Votes – 5/21/13 1,686
Total Candidate Votes –
5/21/13 out of possible 3,438


 YES   1027  60%
 NO   659  38%
 ABSTAIN   33  2%
 TOTAL 1719


 YES   904  57%
 NO   425  27%
 ABSTAIN   249  16%
 TOTAL  1578

You may be able to download the vote count from the district website: IRVINGTON SCHOOL DISTRICT | OFFICIAL VOTE COUNT | MAY 21, 2013

If the district link isn’t working, use this one: 5.21.2013 | Offical Count-Web

4 is not 2


The reason the actual increase in our taxes will be higher than the “Estimated” increase of 4.85% has to do with tax certs.

The simplest explanation is that when businesses–or, less frequently, homeowners–win tax certs, their property taxes are reduced but district spending is not reduced accordingly. As taxable assessments fall, District spending continues to rise.

As a result, those of us who have not won tax certs must pick up the payments of those who did. We are the ‘losers’ in a game of Pass the hot potato.

The principle: when one property owner’s taxes go down, everyone else’s property taxes go up. This is the tax shift.

The district’s “Estimated” tax-rate increase  is wrong because the district does not estimate the “tax shift” (and has refused to do so when asked). Nor does the district make sure citizens understand that the Estimated tax-rate increase is an underestimate.

Next year we are borrowing $3.5 million to pay tax certs. Taxpayers who have not won a tax-cert case must pay that $3.5 million, and from now on we must pick up those owners’ (former) share of property taxes.

That will take us well past the “Estimated” 4.85% tax-rate increase.

UPDATE 9/6/2013:

Have just heard from a neighbor whose taxes rose 5.61%. He says that his tax bill is typical.

If he is correct that his bill is typical, the district increased spending year-on-year by 5.7% and taxes rose by 5.6%. That 5.6% increase pays for a $2.2 million budget surplus — money that will not be spend on education or extracurricular programs — in addition to educational programming.

Email from a friend:

2 points – the new development across from Lyndhurst is not going to be another legend hollow – the 1st phase will only be 8 homes I believe – they’re slated to be $5 million homes so while they’re bringing young kids in, they’re also going to be paying high taxes I would imagine (and some may still put their kids in private school…. The 2nd phase is slated to be another 6 or 8 at the most (I don’t recall exactly). 14 homes is no legend hollow and again, they’re all very high end.

If the budget does not pass on the first vote, the district will put up the same budget, with a smaller “fund balance” (surplus), and we will vote again. The second budget will use the surplus to stay within the cap.

Here’s a picture: Singapore Math explains the budget.

If that budget fails, then, yes, we go to a 0% budget-to-budget increase.

Tuesday’s vote is on the size of the surplus, nothing more. We are voting on whether we want to run a $2.1 million surplus.

From the BOCES explainer posted on the district’s website:

If a proposed budget is defeated by voters, a school district—as in the past—has the option of putting the same or a revised budget up for a revote, or adopting a contingent budget. If a proposed budget is defeated twice by voters, a district must adopt a contingent budget. Certain existing contingent budget requirements remain in effect that prohibit spending in specific areas including community use of buildings, certain salary increases and new equipment purchases.

More significantly, under the new law, a district that adopts a contingent budget may not increase its current tax levy by any amount—which would impose, in effect, a zero percent cap. As of this writing, it is unclear if exemptions will apply.

052812krugman5-blog480 Sticky Wages - FRBSF bell curve
Why Has Wage Growth Remained Strong?
By Mary Daly, Bart Hobijn, and Brian Lucking
FRBSF Economic Letter

4% increases in teacher compensation in IUFSD
Salary schedules 2009-2010 through 2015-2016

The Superintendent’s Proposed Budget, as depicted by a
Singapore Math bar model:

CLICK TO ENLARGE:original:300×287

Singapore Math Scope and Sequence
Singapore Math Bar Model Strategy by Bill Jackson
Scarsdale Public Schools

Singapore Math: A Visual Approach to Word Problems
Model Drawing in Math in Focus TM

The district’s 2 million surplus

President Obama signed the sequester bill in March, so there is no uncertainty about whether we will or will not receive our annual federal funding for special education. That issue has been settled.

Even if we were waiting in suspense, the  amount we would be in suspense over would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $35K.

Click to enlarge
SPED funding & sequestration
IDEA Money Watch – New York

UPDATE 5/28/2013
NYSSBA’s March 7, 2013 estimate was $21,419

And see:
What Is Sequestration and How It Affects Special Education
IDEA Money Watch

The most recent special-education enrollment figure I have is 2011-2012:

In-district Out-of-district John Cardinal
155 31 60 264
$27,745 $5,549 $2,760 $36,063

Special Education Enrollment | 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 | Page from 2011-12 Proposed Budget IUFSD

Sequester cut: $21,419

SALARY SCHEDULES | 2009-2010 THRU 2005-2016

Irvington teachers receive four types of raises: “step,” “lane,” “salary schedule,”  and–after step increases have ended–“career increments” awarded at years 20, 25, and 30. (See: Column raises for teachers | 11/5/2010)

Step and lane raises are protected by the Triborough Amendment. The district is required by law to continue paying step-and-lane raises when the contract expires, and that is what we have done.

For the district to reduce step-and-lane raises, the union would have to make a concession.

Salary-schedule raises are not protected by the Triborough Amendment: salary-schedule raises expire when the contract expires.

For the union to continue to receive salary-schedule raises in addition to step, lane, and career-increment raises, the district must make a concession.

The district made this concession in negotiating the most recent contract. Salary-schedule raises begin again next school year.

We don’t have to pay this third type of raise at all. Nothing in the law compels us to do so, and nowhere in the private sector do employees receive three four different guaranteed raises regardless of performance or the state of the economy.

The simple truth is that IUFSD contracts break the cap, and “wages” have never been frozen. Salary-schedule raises expired; and in 2012-2013 step and lane raises were frozen but all staff members were given a “non-recurring payment of $2,750” to make up for it.

Each year since the crash, total compensation has continued to rise at a rate far above inflation. The increase in total compensation to teachers from 2011-2012 to 2012-2013 was 3.93%.

The union has indeed made some concessions. But the Board of Education has made more.

The chart below is a useful illustration of the fact that salary-schedule raises are only one of three raises teachers receive. When the salary schedule is frozen, compensation continues to rise at a rapid clip.

Click to enlarge
Teacher Climbs the Pay Scale
Source: Triborough Trouble

PRESS RELEASE – UNION CONTRACT – 1.18.2012 – Joint Press Release

Irvington teachers have not had a “salary freeze”

1977-1978 1,564  
1978-1979 1,461 -103
1979-1980 1,455 -6
1980-1981 1,391 -64
1981-1982 1,304 -87
1982-1983 1,217 -87
1983-1984 1,181 -36
1984-1985 1,130 -51
1985-1986 1,129 -1
1986-1987 1,124 -5
1987-1988 1,122 -2
1988-1989 1,100 -22
1989-1990 1,101 +1
1990-1991 1,147 +46
1991-1992 1,149 +2
1992-1993 1,197 +48
1993-1994 1,219 +22
1994-1995 1,284
Legend Hollow
children begin
entering IUFSD
1995-1996 1,310 +26
1996-1997 1,395 +85
1997-1998 1,445 +50
1998-1999 1,618 +173
1999-2000 1,711  +93
2000-2001 1,744 +33
2001-2002 1,858 +114
2002-2003 1,937 +79
2003-2004 1,989 +52
2004-2005 1,998 +9
2005-2006 1,959 -39
2006-2007 1,961
middle school
opens (?)
2007-2008 1,942 -19
2008-2009 1,888 -54
2009-2010 1,799
projected: 1848
overestimate: 49
2010-2011 1,798 -1
2011-2012 1,756
correction: 1,747
2012-2013 1,799 (5/10/2013)
projected: 1,740
underestimate: 59
2013-2014 1783  -16
2014-2015 1759 (6/8/2015)  -24
2015-2016 1774 (10/15/2015)  +15  $57,664.000  $32,505 per pupil

10% projected decline in enrollment over next 5 years (as of February 2013)

Sources for years 1977-1978 through 2009-2010:
Superintendent’s Proposed 2009-10 Budget March 24, 2008
(the ‘2008’ has to be wrong, but that’s what the document says)
Superintendent’s Proposed Budget
March 24, 2009 (ppt)

Enrollment as of 3/4/2013: 1,794
Enrollment as of Friday 5/10/2013: 1799

Correcting Bob Grados
16 new houses, not 50


NonPublic School Enrollment and Staff

Enrollment back to 1978

1999-2000 1,711
2000-2001 1,744 +33
2001-2002 1,858 +114
2002-2003 1,937 +79
2003-2004 1,989 +52
2004-2005 1,998 +9
2005-2006 1,959 -39
2006-2007 1,961 +2
2007-2008 1,942 -19
2008-2009 1,888 -54
2009-2010 1,799
projected: 1848
error: +49
2010-2011 1,798 -1
2011-2012 1,756
1747 (BEDS)
2012-2013 1,799 5/10/13
projected: 1,740
error: -59

Correcting Bob Grados
10% decline in enrollment projected
16 new houses, not 50

Enrollment as of 3/4/2013: 1,794
Enrollment as of Friday 5/10/2013: 1799
2011-2012 BEDS survey: 1747

Over the next 5 years:

  • K-5 enrollments “may likely decrease” by up to 60 students
  • 6-8 enrollments “may likely decrease” by up to 30 pupils
  • 9-12 enrollments “may likely decrease” by up to 85 pupils

TOTAL: 175 students

CURRENT ENROLLMENT (3/4/2013): 1,794

Page 13 | Enrollment Decline
Kindergarten through Grade 12 Program Delivery Study

Press release and study:
Kindergarten through Grade 12 Program Delivery Study

Enrollment back to 1999-2000
16 new houses, not 50

Click to enlarge
Enrollment Projection 2.2013

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

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

Percent increase in per pupil spending: 5.7%
Core PCE inflation as of 6/9/2013: 1.13%

US Core PCE Inflation Rate Chart

US Core PCE Inflation Rate data by YCharts

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

Click to enlarge
Taxable Assessments 3.5.2013
source: Superintendent’s Proposed Budget March 5, 2013 | page 39

  • Roughly a 1% increase in taxable assessments.
  • Proposed budget increase, excluding $3.5 million borrowed to pay tax certs: 5.7%.

Tax cap: 4 Westchester districts will seek override

Written by Joseph Spector | Albany Bureau Chief
May 9, 2013 |

ALBANY — A mere 4 percent of school districts will try to get voter approval to override the state’s property-tax cap, data released Thursday from the state Education Department showed.

Only 28 of the 669 school districts who filed their budgetproposals with the state said they would seek the approval of 60 percent of voters to override the tax cap, the records showed.

Last year, in the first year of the cap, about 50 districts sought an override and nearly 20 failed to win approval from voters. If a budget fails twice, a district can’t increase their tax levy at all.

“The cost of failing to get your budget approved is huge,” said Robert Lowry, deputy director of state Council of School Superintendents.

The districts seeking an override are mainly from Long Island and Westchester County, including the wealthy districts of Scarsdale, Briarcliff Manor, Ardsley and Irvington. Officials in Ardsley and Irvington said they hoped that if they could grow their tax levies for one year, it would allow them to raise more revenue in the future under the tax cap. The cap is a percentage of the base tax levy.


The average tax-levy increase planned for next year among school districts in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties is 3 percent. The average spending increase is 3.7 percent.

Briarcliff Manor, which is looking to override its cap, plans to reduce overall spending for the fourth straight year.


At a rate of 169,000 jobs per month (over the past year), 10 years and 2 months. May 2023.

Hamilton jobs gap calculator

Click to enlarge
2013-14_Property_Tax_Report_Card___HIGHLIGHTED-3 SKITCH
Source: 2013-14 Property Tax Report Card

The district is increasing spending by 5.7% with PCE inflation of only 1.26%.

Core PCE, not the CPI, is used by the Federal Reserve.

US Core PCE Inflation Rate Chart

US Core PCE Inflation Rate data by YCharts

Along with the revenue issues, Briarcliff is being hit with many of the same cost increases hitting school districts everywhere. Health insurance and retirement costs alone (costs over which the District has no control) have risen over $1.3 million this year. In addition, the District is on the hook for over $300,000 in salary increases in the Central Administration and Operations & Maintenance departments.

Briarcliff has managed to deal with these cost increases with a one-time agreement with the Teachers’ Association for a salary freeze for the coming year. No teacher will receive a raise or climb a “step” on the salary chart in 2013-14, although there are instances, such as the earning of a new graduate degree, that would allow a teacher to move into a new salary lane and earn a higher salary.

School Budgets 2013-Briarcliff School District Tax Rate Increase to be Highest in Years by David Neilsen | Friday, 26 April 2013

The IUFSD board did not ask our unions to consider a wage freeze.