Greenburgh Taxpayers Pay The Price Of Education

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A look at Greenburgh's 10 schools puts Edgemont at fifth-highest in terms of the tax rate per $1,000 assessed. All school districts have different total assessments. Photo Credit: Information courtesy of Greenburgh Tax Department

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — While some school authorities have spoken against the tax cap on school budgets, some Greenburgh parents say that you can, in fact, put a price on education.

The second half of Greenburgh school district taxes are due Thursday, and many parents — especially those living in Edgemont — are getting ready for another hard hit to their wallets. Edgemont School District will collect the fifth-highest tax rate among the Town of Greenburgh's 10 school districts this week, taxing Edgemont residents $636 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

Despite Edgemont, Elmsford and Greenburgh Central 7 school authorities' cuts to staff and materials for the 2012-2013 budget, the tax rate for the three school districts was 2.5 to 3.5 percent higher for district taxpayers. Since school taxes comprise more than 60 percent of Greenburgh residents' tax bills, that's an increase that parents like Seema Sha notice.

"I don't know what kind of measures can be taken, but it's too high," said Sha, who has a son attending Edgemont. "In this economy, it would benefit everyone if it was lowered."

Elmsford schools fall in the middle of the three at $556 per $1,000 of assessed value, while Greenburgh 7 schools come in lowest at $458.

The number of properties in each school district and their average assessed value weigh into the final assessment, said Greenburgh Assessor Edye McCarthy, which explains why unincorporated Greenburgh's tax rate is so low — there are more properties to tax.

Additionally, compared to the average home value of $383,500 in Elmsford, the average value of a home in Greenburgh is at $445,100, according to Zillow.com

Greenburgh 7 Superintendent Ronald Ross called the state's mandated 2 percent tax cap a "death deal" for public education at the board of education's budget meeting in April, which kept Greenburgh's 2012-2013 budget increase at 2.5 percent. But some parents say more money to schools doesn't always mean a better education.

"You don't have to equate a good education with high taxes," said a parent who has two children in Edgemont High School. "As long as there's good teachers and a good atmosphere, children will learn."

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Comments (15)

Frank Pagani:

Until the benefits playing field between the public and private sectors is leveled, Westhester property taxes will remain the highest in the U.S.

truthiness:

And by unions you mean the hardworking teachers that work tirelessly to help students?

why dont you just say what you mean... that teachers dont deserve the salary they get. That you want people spending the day educating your children for less money. You want teachers to be fired, or moved or harassed by administrators and parents?

Isnt it in the best interest of the students to have a stable, mature, well educated faculty? Do you want your student with a first year (and cheaper) teacher every year? Or do you want a faculty with advanced degrees, who are passionate experts in their field, excited to motivate students and share their love of learning?

When did schools, children and students become the enemy?

Why is Edgemont a more "successful" school than elmsford? Because there is an overwhelming support of the district by the residents.
This past year the Edgemont budget received 505 votes in favor and 102 votes opposed. Compared to Elmsford where the vote was 204yes-135no.
It shows the support. Without support districts keep budgets low (to assure a yes vote) In order to keep them low they CUT, CUT, CUT... it is a viscous cycle. Low Support = Low Budgets = CUTS = Worse schools = LOWER SUPPORT...

Until you spend a day in a teachers shoes (especially in the places you are trashing) you should ask instead of tell.

Just4Elms:

Well let’s turn down the violins on behalf of the teachers just a little bit. It clear that teachers are dedicated professionals but they are also employees of an organization with a specific goal; educate children. Compare public school teachers to their private and Catholic school counterparts; public teachers are very well paid and have excellent benefits. Catholic / private school teachers often earn a salary of half, or less, than that of a top grade public school teacher and a fraction of the benefits (if any at all). Yet, teachers in those Catholic schools are getting the job done and then some.

It is not sustainable to pay a public employee a full year worth of salary and benefits for a half year worth of work. It’s an unfortunate reality. Children need more time in the classroom and when the kids are out teachers should be training, preparing and working for the next school year. Conferences, workshops and meetings should not be held at the expense of children’s time in the classroom (Elmsford’s “Superintendent Mondays”). Other public employees are expected to work 260 days a year, NYS teacher’s work approximately 170 days something needs to change.

There is a lot of blame to go around in Elmsford, the kids themselves, the parents, the BOE and administration. The “Truth-in-this” is that the teachers are part of this broken system and must hold some degree of accountability, NOT ALL OF IT, but they have a role. If you’re not part of the solution you are part of the problem. If there are underlying issues, through the union representation they should be addressed and made public if necessary.

Finally with regard to the support of the community… how do you expect a community to continue to support a broken system. Elmsford residents are raising $33,000 a year, per enrolled student at what benefit?? Edgemont is a community driven by the schools. The property values are in direct relation to the performance of the schools and to that the community maintains high degrees of both expectations and accountability to the district. Why would a community not support a top ranking educational program in the county when it is the reason a modest size Tudor house on a .25 acre lot is worth well over 1 million dollars? A seasoned, motivated, innovative Superintendent that has been held to a degree of expectation and accountability like Edgemont may be what Elmsford needs.

truthiness:

I disagree with most of your above post...

You have no context, no experience and no insight into what it takes to work for, run or teach in a school system. You are on the outside looking in.

I would recommend that you spend some significant time within a school system, understanding how and why they make decisions before you throw insults and fictional statistics at it.

Call the office and offer to volunteer. Call and ask if they could use an volunteer coach or classroom aide. Spend an hour a month with the students and teachers. It might help you realize the complexity of the situation. There is no simple answer and there is no villain.

You continuous attack on teachers is played out. Teacher work more hours that most people, they spend countless hours "off the books" planning, grading, learning and preparing to do their job. Come by and visit the Elmsford schools at 5pm or 6am or a day in July, you will find teachers in their classrooms, cleaning, working and planning. You will see coaches working with athletes and a staff improving the facilities.

Visit a teachers house and you will see workbooks, gradebooks, computers full of bookmarks and lesson plans. Pick up the phone right now call one of your former Elmsford teachers and ask if they brought work home. Then ask them if they earn too much or if they are ready to take the "blame" for whatever it is you think is wrong.

As to your last paragraph. You have the cart before the horse. The support of the community (especially its most vocal) is what allows a school to become successful. If you are waiting to support a "good" school but spend your time on the internet and in town bashing it... you will be waiting a long time.

Listen, Learn and then preach.

Just4Elms:

Well I don’t want to drag this out, but since you took the time for a thoughtful reply I will as well. My comments were not an attack on teachers or a handbook on how to run a school district. Many of the statements made in my last comment were accurate observations and facts.

Is it not true that: teachers only work 170days a year versus 260 for other public employees; public school teachers make significantly more than private school teachers; the Elmsford school district does not perform at a level comparable to Edgemont; the Elmsford residents which are among the lowest income/ property value as compared to the other Greenburgh districts are carrying more of a financial burden ($33k per enrolled pupil) than nearby districts?

You have no idea as to the depth of my knowledge in ANY field, and that narrow minded thinking, whether you are a teacher, elected official, administrator or janitor is one of the many reasons the Elmsford School District can’t get out of its own way. Anyone who questions the decisions made by the BOE and Administration is dismissed and not given due consideration.

I was not blaming teachers, all I was indicating is that when an organization fails, everyone that is part of it has some stake in its failure, just as if it was excelling then all parts of the organization would be recognized accordingly.

Many professionals take their work home, come in early and leave late, that’s not unique to teachers that’s the blueprint for any successful professional. Critiquing the school, its staff and overall operation is not bashing it’s a necessary part in the process to demand accountability and an expectation of performance.

As a taxpaying resident I shouldn’t have to volunteer, prepare a performance analysis and operations manual. There is a school board who should expect that to come from a well compensated and capable administration. I’m working hard enough to pay my school taxes every year, the second half which I have to scrape together today.

Pat McGuire Leavy:

"Greenburgh 7 schools come in lowest at $458."

"Greenburgh 7 Superintendent Ronald Ross called the state's mandated 2 percent tax cap a "death deal" for public education at the board of education's budget meeting in April, which kept Greenburgh's 2012-2013 budget increase at 2.5 percent"

After living in the GC7 District for 20+ years I can't even take anything that goes on there seriously. It's deceit, nonsense and waste from end to end but it is also indicative of how the entire TOV Greenburgh operates. It's a crying shame too as the district could have been a great district. Maybe someday it will but I doubt it from the looks of some of the statements made by Ross. SMDH

Just4Elms:

Good article but it could have went a little deeper,... the thing to mention is spending per pupil ( which in its truest form is simply the total budget divided by the total enrolled students) Elmsford's number is around $33,000 per student. Also in Elmsford 30% of the eligible children (5-17 years old attend private schools) in Greenburgh its 40%. So despite the high per pupil expenditures, they're only educating a fraction of the population (how much would it cost if everyone went there!!!???). In Ardsley and Edgemont for example the number of eligible students not enrolled in the public school district is less than 5%.

The other imporant fact is not so much the tax rates per $1,000 of assessed value but the amount of property taxes paid in proportion to your home value. So for example a home in Irvington that pays $24,000 in annual school taxes but its worth $1.2m is acutally in alot better shape than the home in Elmsford which pays $8,000 in annual school taxes but is only worth $325,000. There is a greater burden on the Elmsford homeowner.

-Justin

tootired:

Awwwww! Quit your bellyaching Justin! Be grateful you're not in Greenburgh Central! lol. IT COULD BE WORSE! :P

Just4Elms:

haha,... and the sky just cleared!

tootired:

There ya go! haha!

GreenburghDad:

look at elmsford. one of the biggest school budgets IN THE NATION and also, ONE OF THE WORST IN THE NATION. EVERYBODY IN ELMSFORD SCHOOL DISTRICT SENDS THEIR KIDS TO PRIVATE SCHOOL (minus elsmford village) IT"S THE BIGGEST JOKE IN WEST CHESTER. EVERYONE HERE IS BEING TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF

truthiness:

IN THE NATION? what are you talking about?

WORST IN THE NATION? what did that school do to you?

TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF? call your relator and move out.

Just4Elms:

The sad part is that of all the neighboring school districts there is no reason why Elmsford shouldn't be the best. The neighborhood is safe, affordable and there is a good mix of residential and commercial properties to maintain a tax base. Where else in Westchester can a young family buy a starter home, in a safe neighborhood for under $400k? Its also a very small district with a low teacher to student ratio and obvioulsy raises alot of money per student ( $33k on par with annual tuition for Hackly School).

What's the missing link? We have the money and we have the size, how come this district can't put up the numbers?

Pat McGuire Leavy:

While it is of interest to see the tax rates for these districts, marry this information with the below and THIS is the real story:

District spending per pupil (NYS Dept ED 2010-11) and District ranking (School Digger)

Ardsley- $ 23.0K #73
Dobbs- 26.2K #201
Edgemont- 23.0K #23
Elmsford- 28.7K #285
Greenburgh
Central- 33.7K #799
Hastings- 25.0K #108
Irvington- 27.3K #22
Pocantico- 47.1K #177
Valhalla- 27.4K #100
Tarrytown *??? #495

*not reported for some odd reason.

WPEyesNEars:

Get use to it as long as you insist to keep electing the same people to the school board. The money isn't used on the kids, its for the unions!

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