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Comptroller Mychajliw offers honest discussion and clear understanding of school consolidation process to teachers, parents and administrators at an Iroquois Central School District Board of Education meeting


Erie County Comptroller Stefan I. Mychajliw Jr. hosted a presentation at the May 8th, 2018 Iroquois School Board Meeting to provide taxpayers, teachers, school board members and administrators with a clear picture of how the county shares sales tax with schools and the true cost breakdown of school consolidations.


“Politicians are trying to fool taxpayers by not telling the truth about increased costs associated with forcing districts to consolidate.  Taxpayers are being sold a bill of goods.  No different than when families were lied to when told they could keep their doctor and keep their health care plan under Obamacare,” said Comptroller Mychajliw during a formal presentation before the Iroquois Central School Board of Education meeting.


Comptroller Mychajliw updated the Board of Education on the total sales tax revenue the Iroquois School District received in 2017: approximately $2,663,000. That funding is critical for programming, services and for students and teachers in the classroom.  As part of a 1977 Sales Tax Sharing Agreement between Erie County and the cities of Buffalo, Lackawanna and Tonawanda, those entities agreed to share a portion of sales tax revenue with school districts across Erie County, including Iroquois.


Cities, towns and villages also receive a portion of sales tax revenue as part of that 1977 agreement.  Comptroller Mychajliw told taxpayers and the Board of Education that towns served by the Iroquois School District received millions of dollars in sales tax revenue 2017: Lancaster, $4,440,839, Elma, $2,123,181; Aurora, $1,452,459; Marilla, $799,484; and Wales, $512,017.


“The politicians can cancel this contract by giving 12-months’ notice.  Schools and local governments would be crippled without this revenue.  While other politicians threatened to use a ‘hammer’ on school districts that don’t consolidate, our partners in education should not be threatened.  That is one reason why I’m letting school districts and families know exactly how much they receive in funding from sales tax revenue.  Keep in mind, a lot of that money comes from Canadians that cross the border to shop here,” added Comptroller Mychajliw.


In his presentation, Comptroller Mychajliw told the Board of Education that if districts consolidated, teacher salaries and health care costs would “bump up” to whichever district paid more.  The Board of Education was given an example of “bumping up” salaries between the Cheektowaga Central School District and Cheektowaga Sloan School District would cost an additional $27,000 per teacher, for an educator with 17-years’ experience and a Master’s Degree.  New York State aid meant to offset increased costs would begin being phased out after six years.


“The Iroquois community deserves an intellectually honest discussion, to be given facts about the sales tax sharing agreement, how it benefits them, and the increased costs of forcing school consolidation on taxpayers that may not even want it,” said Comptroller Mychajliw, who also shared the burdensome process of consolidating school districts, which involves multiple votes from municipalities, boards of education, and New York State approval.


Comptroller Mychajliw highlighted an extensive school consolidation study from Syracuse University that showed districts with 300 or fewer students can benefit financially from consolidating.  Most recent data shows the Iroquois Central School District educates 2,229 enrolled students.


School districts that are in severe financial distress and using large amounts of fund balance to pay recurring expenses are also shown to benefit in the short term from consolidating with a financially sound district.  According to projected revenues for the proposed 2018-2019 Iroquois Central School District budget, the District is not using one penny of its $1,773,612 fund balance to pay bills or balance the budget.


“It is clear from my conversations with members of the Iroquois school community that they are happy with how the district is operating.  Families feel they don’t need to be bullied by outsiders on how to run their schools or towns.  My multiple reports on sales tax revenue and school district consolidations are available to every taxpayer who wants to understand facts and the truth.  From there, taxpayers can decide for themselves what is best for their towns and schools.  That is democracy in action.”


“If communities and school boards vote to approve school consolidations, that is wonderful.  I wholeheartedly support that,” concluded Comptroller Mychajliw.


Comptroller Mychajliw initially met with Iroquois Central Schools Superintendent Douglas R. Scofield on March 28th, 2018 to discuss school consolidations.  At that meeting, Superintendent Scofield expressed concerns about the conditions of county roads in and around schools.  Many were littered with potholes and the middle, yellow striping line could no longer be seen on Girdle Road.  Comptroller Mychajliw immediately shared those concerns in writing with Erie County Department of Public Works Commissioner William Geary.  Following that correspondence, it was announced that portions of Girdle Road would be repaired this construction season.