Advocacy Outreach Committee
Keeping students safe is our number one responsibility and legislative priority. We support the current legislation to allow school districts the opportunity to decline their requirement to serve as election polling locations. Currently, Lakeland has four schools serving as polling locations. When primary elections are held, students and staff are in session. The District must purchase extra security, and deal with election workers and the general public who often ignore school policies for visitors.
FUNDING FOR SAFETY AND SECURITY ENHANCEMENTS
It is time for the State to recognize the critical need to provide safety and security measures such as SRO's or security aides and mental health services. Even allowing the opportunity for districts to receive state aid on their purchases would significantly assist in financing these initiatives being implemented statewide.
RAISE THE LIMIT OF $30,000 IN EARNINGS FOR RETIRED POLICE OFFICERS
In order to have the best possible security aides that we employ both during and after the school day, retired police officers would be the best option. Currently, however, their earnings in retirement are capped at $30,000, eliminating them from consideration. We support legislation to raise or eliminate this cap.
Every year, the State passes legislation requiring districts to implement policies or procedures that cost significant dollars without providing the funding. Further, many of these mandates make no logical sense. For example, the Lakeland Central School District is now required to monitor the educational programs of all private schools in our district. This will take significant hours of work from highly trained administrators, or require the district to pay BOCES to carry out this work. Another mandate requires our business office to complete a secondary budget report that we estimate will take over a hundred hours to complete. This report is intended to demonstrate the appropriate distribution of the budget to schools by need based on populations but overlooks the fact that 70% of the budget is salaries based upon years of experience and degree status. High need schools may have younger staff with lower salaries even though they have high-quality services. There are numerous other such unfunded mandates taking significant dollars and labor hours away from our service to our students.
AUTHORIZE TEACHER RETIREMENT AND SPECIAL EDUCATION RESERVE FUNDS
Currently, Lakeland cannot hold funds in reserve should we have significant increases in teacher pension or special education costs which can significantly increase from year to year. The state does allow a reserve for other employee retirement costs, but teachers make up well over half of the district staffing. Special education costs for students that must be placed out of district can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars that may not have been budgeted. A reserve would ensure these costs are covered.