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September 24, 2003

Chautauqua County Chamber uses Public Policy Institute publication in dialogue on school finances

In an effort to help local school districts reign in spending, Chautauqua County Chamber has given every school board member in the county a copy of Leadership for the Schools We Need, a handbook for business leaders considering running for school boards.

Todd Feigenbaum, a business owner and school-board member from Glens Falls, Warren County, wrote the book, which was published in August by The Public Policy Institute, The Business Council's research affiliate.

The Chautauqua County Chamber, in conjunction with the Chautauqua County Business Council and the Manufacturers Association of the Jamestown Area have watched with concern the school taxes increase for sometime, explained Amy Vercant, the chambers spokesman.

"The local business community has expressed a lot of frustration over the increases in taxes. The chamber is taking a more pro-active stance and taking a hard look to see what can be done about school taxes," Vercant said.

Leadership for the Schools We Need was released in early August by the Public Policy Institute. The Chamber found the release timely and informative.

The book argues that New York's future prosperity depends on how well it teaches its children. The book warns that improvement in this area is essential, and says that more business leaders on school boards can help.

"It had a lot of good ideas that we wanted to share," Vercant said.

The Chamber sent the book to 160 board members of the 18 school districts in Chautauqua County as a precursor to meetings between school district associations and business leaders.

"We want to open dialogue between the business community and the school districts," Vercant said.

Among other things the business community would like to see school districts condense or share services.

"Our objective is to maintain quality in the school, but without costing business even more," Vercant said.