Holley school officials want meeting with legislators over unfunded mandates

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 22 December 2015 at 12:00 am

HOLLEY – Robert D’Angelo, superintendent of Holley Central School, says he plans to reach out to State Assemblyman Steve Hawley, State Sen. Robert Ortt and Congressman Chris Collins early in the new year to discuss the state’s tax cap and the burden placed on school districts by unfunded mandates.

“I want them to come and physically meet with us,” D’Angelo told members of the Holley Central School Board of Education during their regular meeting Monday evening.

D’Angelo said he will reach out to his Orleans County colleagues in other school districts and invite them to take part as well.

D’Angelo and Assistant Superintendent for Business Sharon Zacher have been researching unfunded mandates and have found that they account for $1.2 million of the district’s annual budget, a figure D’Angelo called conservative.

“It disturbs me as a superintendent … as many years as I can remember I have contacted legislators … with no action on the backside,” D’Angelo said.

He noted small rural districts are “under the gun” regarding the tax cap and unfunded mandates, but explained that overriding the tax cap is not realistic as a solution.

“We don’t have to hurt the taxpayer any more … every legislator values education, now is the time for the rubber to meet the road,” D’Angelo said.

He asked Board of Education members to assist him in his efforts by reaching out to politicians and asking them to please help the school district with Foundation Aid per student, which is the main source of general operation aid for school districts and takes into account student need and local ability to pay.

“Foundation Aid is where they can help, this is where we need to appeal to them. They have room to play with Foundation Aid. We don’t have to go to the taxpayers and burden them more,” D’Angelo said, and noted he is passionate about the issue and is determined to sit down and talk directly to lawmakers.

“I need more from them at this point,” he said. “Something has to give.”

“You have to reach out to them,” School Board President Brenda Swanger told him.

Sharon Zacher provided board members with a chart regarding Foundation Aid and added next year’s tax cap has the possibility of being zero. She told board members she will have more information for them regarding the Tax Cap during the January board meeting.