Continuing her effort on streamlining government, Assemblywoman Sandy Galef will bring in experts from the area and across the state for a conversation about shrinking school budgets through sharing and consolidation, on Thursday, September 16th from 7:00-9:00 p.m. at Cortlandt Town Hall, 1 Heady Street, Cortlandt Manor. The forum is open to the public and there will be an opportunity for questions and answers.
Experts include Jonathan Drapkin, Executive Director for Pattern for Progress, Charles Zettek Jr., Vice President and Director of Government Management Services for the Center for Governmental Research, John Clarkson, former Executive Director of the State Commission on Local Government Efficiency and Competitiveness, and Dr. Joseph L. Natale, Director of Advisory Solutions for the New York State School Boards Association.
“Property taxes in our area and across the state are too high for us to remain competitive,” Galef says. “I continue to look for ways our state can address this issue. School sharing and consolidation is one area that I believe needs thorough consideration. The world has gotten smaller through technological innovations and a shrinking economy, and it is time for not only government to respond, but also school districts,” she continues. “By consolidating and sharing, school budgets and burdens on taxpayers will potentially decrease.”
Jonathan Drapkin and Pattern for Progress’ goal is to improve the quality of life, while at the same time having a planned and reasonable budget for growth. As a former member of the Governor’s Commission on Local Government Efficiency and Competitiveness and as the former County Manager of Sullivan County, Drapkin has extensive experience pertaining to balancing budgets and taxes.
Charles Zettek Jr. from the Center for Governmental Research, has conducted 12 village/town consolidation studies. Zettek has researched extensively on how to consolidate, or share service between towns, villages, and/or school districts to reduce the number of local governments and the high costs of taxes.
John Clarkson served as Executive Director for the State Commission on Local Government Efficiency and Competitiveness, where he produced extensive reports on, among other things, property taxes and consolidation. From 2003 to 2006, he worked as Assistant Comptroller for the Division of Local Government Services and Economic Development. He currently works at the office of the State Comptroller.
Dr. Joseph L. Natale from the New York State School Boards Association was a superintendent of schools in Washingtonville, New York. As Director of Advisory Solutions, Natale works with school districts on studies that evaluate and implement sharing services for savings.
This forum is part of Galef’s efforts to bring the community into the discussion about reducing government at all levels in an effort to bring down its cost, which can potentially decrease taxes. Galef hopes that the public will join her as she moderates this discussion with experts on how school sharing and consolidation could decrease school budgets, save taxpayers’ money, and at the same time continue the excellent education across Westchester and Putnam Counties which everyone has come to expect.