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State’s New Property Tax Cap Leads to Loss of 35 Teachers

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Due to a lack of state money New York has come up with a new law capping the annual increases in local government taxes and school district property taxes.  Starting on or after January 1, 2012, the law will limit the growth of property taxes demanded by school districts or local governments to two percent.   That, combined with a drop of student enrollment in the school district has forced the Half Hallow Hills Board of Education to cut over thirty teachers, and to freeze salary increases of district administrators.

To stay within New York States new limitation, the Half Hallow Hills Board of Education said it would cut thirty-five teaching positions, eighteen of which are because of the drop of student enrollment in elementary schools.  Additionally, twenty-six other positions, district-wide, are being terminated, including clerical, guidance, psychologists, and other staff.  About 61 staff members were let go, totaling in about $12.7 million in cuts.  “It’s a very unfortunate thing to happen to the district”, says Mrs. Kesten, a guidance counselor at High School West, “and it’s hard to see teachers let go because of budget cuts.”  She stresses that the reason teachers were cut had absolutely nothing to do with ability.  “They were all qualified”, she confirms, “but it’s an even bigger shame because of that.”

Teachers aren’t the only ones suffering from the budget cuts, though; administration is being hit hard as well.  The board of education unanimously voted to freeze salary increases of the district administrators for two full years, which will save about $1.2 million.  There were no terminations, however, due to the freeze.  Additional expenses, such as the district calendar and the purchase of new textbooks will be dropped as well.

The new capping law hit the Half Hallow Hills school district hard, costing the district sixty-one teaching jobs, and probably the loss of several electives.  The results of the property tax cap really are a shame.