Assemblyman Dennis H. Gabryszak (D-Cheektowaga) held a press conference today to discuss legislation he authored that would make amendments to the education law including the way the income wealth index is calculated (A.9486). These changes will help relieve the tax burden on local school districts.
“New York State places great emphasis on the value of education; however, the current education aid formula needs to be reworked,” Assemblyman Gabryszak said. “The current system often results in the poorest school districts losing the most through budget cuts. This legislation will help reduce some of the fiscal hardships our school districts face by lowering the income wealth index (IWI) floor and ceiling.”
The income wealth index calculation is based on the Adjusted Gross Income of residents of the district, as reported on tax returns. It includes the results of the statewide computerized income verification process, and is then divided by the Total Wealth Pupil Unit (TWPU) of the district. This product is compared to a predetermined state average. The Actual Valuation (AV) and Income Wealth ratios are then used equally to compute the district's Combined Wealth Ratio (CWR). Since the income wealth ratio is calculated and applied to the CWR formulas, the income wealth index plays a central role in affecting the level of state-determined eligibility for funding.
“Cuts in funding are leaving our school districts to operate on a bare minimum of resources and our students need to be able to compete with other schools in the area as well as statewide,” Assemblyman Gabryszak said. “We can’t afford to cut teaching positions or sacrifice important programs. School districts must have the funding they need so their students may succeed.”
Assemblyman Gabryszak is a strong advocate for schools and recently helped pass a state budget that increases school aid by 4 percent – or $805 million. The final budget also reallocates almost $200 million from competitive grants into the general school aid fund, which will provide school districts in the 143rd Assembly District with an additional $5.3 million.
The final budget provided an increase of:
- 2.97 percent or $271,727 for Cheektowaga Central School District;
- 5.02 percent or $516,137 for Maryvale Union Free School District;
- 5.30 percent or $551,571 for Cheektowaga-Sloan Union Free School District;
- 5.84 percent or $718,274 for Depew Union Free School District;
- 6.69 percent or $585,215 for Cleveland Hill Union Free School District; and
- 11.28% or $2,656,760 for Lancaster Central School District.
“We at Cleveland Hill are truly appreciative of Assemblyman Gabryszak's responsiveness to our calls for legislative action to address the inequitable distribution of State aid,” John MacSwan, Superintendent of Cleveland Hill School District said. “His willingness to work to understand the complexities of school finance and unfunded mandates should be commended.”
“Assemblyman Gabryszak's recent participation in the Superintendent's Budget Advisory Committee for the Depew Union Free School District was very much appreciated by the Depew School-Community. I believe he was able to understand the adverse impact of the inequitable state aid funding formula which has had a significant impact on our children,” Jeffrey Rabey, Superintendent of Depew Union Free School District said. “Furthermore, it is my firm opinion that this new income wealth index legislation will go a long way to ensure that no matter where a child lives in New York State, their educational programming will be equal to their peer's. This education reform bill is critical for the survival of all schools in New York State and the future of public education as we know it.”
“As a Taxpayer President, one of the most common complaints we get is that we do not receive enough state-aid because of the education aid formula,” Jane Wiercioch, President of the Depew/Cheektowaga Taxpayers Association said. “My school district has an Income Wealth Index ratio of only .59 percent of 1, while districts downstate have numbers as high as 13. We receive much less aid than districts downstate. It is time to change the way district aid is formulated and make it more equitable for our community. The taxpayers want a quality education for their children, but property taxes are becoming too high for most homeowners. Changes should be made to the education formula that will help both students and taxpayers.”