Zack Hutchins
Director of Communications

For Release — May 12, 2009

Public Policy Institute School Tax Watch shows smaller increases this year

ALBANY — School districts are holding the line in their proposed budgets this year, proposing average per-pupil spending and tax increases of only 3 percent, a new “School Tax Watch” study by the Public Policy Institute finds.

Statewide, proposed school budgets in the "School Tax Watch" sample would increase per-pupil spending to an average $19,461 – an increase of 3 percent. The average per-pupil property tax levy would increase by 3 percent to $11,237.

This year's proposed increases are the lowest in the recent years analyzed by the Public Policy Institute. However, only 61 districts are proposing spending increases at or below the -0.2 percent inflation rate projected by the Consumer Price Index.

Nearly half of the 657 districts analyzed plan to increase spending more than three percent, including 104 districts whose proposed per-pupil spending is up at least 6 percent.

And districts continue to increase spending despite stagnant enrollment. Statewide, enrollment is expected to drop by more than 10,000 in the 2009-2010 school year.

Voters in some 700 school districts around the state will consider 2009-10 budget proposals Tuesday, May 19. State law requires each district to inform the state Education Department of its current and proposed spending, tax levy, and enrollment. The Public Policy Institute used the data to calculate per-student tax and spending figures, and the percentage increase, for some 600 districts with more than 200 students. The "Big 5" school districts where residents do not vote on school budgets -- New York City, Buffalo, Yonkers, Rochester and Syracuse -- are not included in the SED data or in the Public Policy Institute study.

This year's proposed school budgets continue a trend of annual increases in school spending and school taxes that have been far above the inflation rate. The Public Policy Institute first issued "School Tax Watch" in 1999. The report is available at: www.ppinys.org/taxes/SchoolTaxWatch2009-10.pdf