Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Some News Stories to Follow

If you have read enough about the Penn State scandal, global budget pressures, and Lady Gaga, then consider the following three stories that could have a big impact on how we all do business:

1. First is a story out of the New York State Education Department where officials have agreed to support mandate relief for special education requirements. Special education expenses make up a large portion of school budgets, but the money goes to help service students with disabilities. Mandate relief in general has been a big topic for the past couple of years. There are over one hundred mandates for schools that cause money to be spent without any local control. It has been difficult to get the state to make changes to mandates related to reporting, paperwork processing, conducting a census, and other items that really do not impact children.

To see the Commissioner and Governing body at the State Education Department support changes in mandated regulations that directly impact students with disabilities makes me curious, and it should make you curious as well. If this is truly on the table and gaining traction, the questions should be "why now?" and "what don't we know about the state budget that is causing these changes to be seriously considered?" My guess is that we will learn these answers shortly. Something to keep an eye on.
@JohnKingNYSED via Twitter

2. New York State announced today that they will likely have a $350 Million structural deficit (in English it means that they will be short) by the end of their fiscal year. For all of us in the public sector (schools, towns, villages, and counties) what will this mean? The answer cannot be good. My feeling is that the sooner the state confirms this and tells all of us what this means to our organizations, the more time we will have to plan and make the changes that will be necessary to accommodate this shortfall.

3. Lastly, there are five towns who are in disagreement with the county about snow plowing. At this point, the towns are refusing to plow roads for the county because the reimbursement rate is just not financially beneficial enough to take on the work any longer. In Camillus this means that the following roads will be plowed by the county instead of the Town:

Van Buren Road and Armstrong Road South
Belle Isle Road
Gere Lock Road
Milton Avenue
Pottery Road and Armstrong Road North
Thomas Avenue
Thompson Road
Winchell Road

We have been assured that these roads will receive the same care from the county as they did from the town, and I am sure that they will. However, I think that the three topics that I have outlined show you how bad things are finally getting in New York State when decisions have to be made that potentially impact children with disabilities and general public safety. Not good, but telling in my opinion. My advice is to be part of the solution whenever possible.