Senator Steve Saland (R,I,C Poughkeepsie) today announced the Senate has passed his bill, S.5671, which would require that any state mandate imposing a cost upon a school district be imposed before the adoption of a school budget. This provision allows school districts to plan for and incorporate any new state imposed mandate in their upcoming school budget.
"As Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, I am sensitive to school districts’ concerns regarding the unfunded mandates placed on them and have consistently opposed them. Others, such as the Board of Regents, the State Education Department and the federal government, can and do impose unfunded mandates," said Senator Saland. "When a costly mandate is placed on a school district without the district having time to include it in their budget, they often have to reduce programs, services or staff to pay for it. This is patently unfair to students and staff."
A good example of why Senator Saland believes this legislation is necessary happened in December 2006. The State Education Department announced that all public school districts had to provide students taking mandated State math exams with graphing and/or scientific calculators if they are required to complete course work. Statewide this mandate cost school districts roughly $100 million, with some school districts having to unexpectedly spend $100,000 just on calculators.
"With taxpayers voicing their concerns about burgeoning school budgets, it is unfair to spring added costs on districts. If school districts are informed about a costly potential mandate in time, they can plan to include it in their budget or seek additional State aid, rather than trying to play catch up after the fact," Saland concluded.