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Holley school leaders say unfunded mandates ‘strangle’ taxpayers

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 17 November 2015 at 12:00 am

HOLLEY – During the upcoming school budget process, Holley Central School District Superintendent Robert D’Angelo says he will work to make sure the cost of unfunded state and federal mandates are clear to board members, taxpayers and particularly local representatives.

D’Angelo presented a four-page list of unfunded mandates to members of the Holley Central School Board of Education during their regular meeting Monday evening. He said he will work with Sharon Zacher, Assistant Superintendent for Business, to “… attach approximate dollars to those mandates… I was surprised that there were four pages. We will then take that information and engage local politicians.”

D’Angelo mentioned State Assemblyman Steve Hawley and State Sen. Robert Ortt as well as Congressional representatives as politicians with whom he will share the information he collects. The school superintendent noted that unfunded mandates are a huge cost for school districts, and although school officials routinely complain, nothing really changes. He hopes his efforts will have an impact.

“Whether the politicians will bite the bullet is another story,” he said. “Those are real figures for us and are a burden on Holley and every other school district in New York State.”

D’Angelo and Board President Brenda Swanger said it would be helpful to involve other local districts as well as the New York State School Boards Association to make sure concerns are heard.

D’Angelo said he hopes the figures Holley compiles and reports to representatives will “solicit some sort of help. It will be interesting to see how it works out.” He added that the unfunded mandates coupled with the state tax cap, “really strangle us.”

Obtaining relief from unfunded mandates would help not only school boards, but also taxpayers, D’Angelo said.