Galef Taps Experts in Panel Discussion on School Consolidation and Sharing

Improving systems could lower costs and property taxes
September 2, 2010

Assemblywoman Sandy Galef invites the public to join her for a panel discussion on reducing property taxes through school sharing and service consolidation on Thursday, September 16th from 7:00-9:00 p.m. at Cortlandt Town Hall, 1 Heady Street, Cortlandt Manor. There will be an opportunity for the audience to ask questions and panelists to respond.

Panelists 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 (NYSSBA).

“The biggest portion of our property taxes pays for school costs. We all acknowledge the critical role our public schools play in supporting our society,” Galef said. “So, we must transform our schools’ systems to make them more efficient and effective while continuing to meet high standards. School sharing and consolidation needs to be considered more broadly to meet this challenge. Technological advances and a shrinking economy have made the world smaller, and it is time for not only government to respond, but for school districts as well. I look forward to hearing from experts about the best approach to this challenge and how community members can participate in the process.”

Jonathan Drapkin and Pattern for Progress’ seek to improve the quality of life while at the same time having a planned and reasonable budget for growth. A former member of the Governor’s Commission on Local Government Efficiency and Competitiveness and former County Manager of Sullivan County, Drapkin has great experience researching, reducing, planning and balancing budgets.

Charles Zettek Jr. from the Center for Governmental Research has conducted 12 village/town consolidation studies. Zettek has studied how to consolidate or share services between, towns, villages, and/or school districts to decrease the number of local governments and the high tax burden.

As Executive Director for the State Commission on Local Government Efficiency and Competitiveness, John Clarkson has produced extensive reports on 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 in the Office of the New York State Comptroller.

Dr. Joseph L. Natale from NYSSBA was formerly a school superintendent in Washingtonville County, New York. As Director of Advisory Solutions for NYSSBA, Natale works with school districts around the state to evaluate and implement plans for sharing services.

This forum is part of Assemblywoman Galef’s ongoing efforts to bring community members into the discussion about reducing the size of government at all levels to bring down costs and decrease taxes. Galef invites the public to join in the conversation with experts on how to effect school sharing and consolidation while simultaneously continuing to offer excellent public education opportunities throughout Westchester and Putnam Counties.