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Gary Bixhorn Chief operating officer Eastern Suffolk Boces

November 6, 2009 @ 12:00 am EST


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This morning our speaker was Gary Bixhorn. Mr. Bixhorn is the Chief Operating Officer of Eastern Suffolk BOCES. We generally think of BOCES as the special education arm of our education system. That was its original function, but over time it added the vocational training, then the buying cooperative services was added. Today BOCES has a substantial mission in many areas that service the school districts in that area. It has no separate tax base for funding its operations. All funding comes from the school districts on an apportionment basis.

Mr. Bixhorn spoke about the cost of schooling on Long Island and stated that the Long Island region was not getting its fair share of state revenues that are allocated to all schools in the state.

As the conversation about costs were explored the questions from the audience asked; Why in hard economic times, do the schools maintain their budgets as if all were normal?

The discussion revealed some important ways that savings could be realized. For example; there is little doubt that consolidation of districts would save some money when most of the $200K plus administrators would not be needed.

While industry has changed the way pensions have been funded, the school personnel have the same high cost defined benefit plans they have always had. Modifying pensions would provide additional savings. Another problem that is directly related to the multiple school districts is labor contract negotiations. Each school district negotiates its own contracts and those contracts are jack-sawed by comparing their salaries to the last contract that was signed. Each new contract is incrementally higher than the last. The solution to this never-ending escalation in costs is to have salaries and benefits. negotiated on a regional basis.

Unfortunately no politician has had the courage to fight back. Each year goes by and the tax burden gets worse. Now we are at a juncture where we have an angrier taxpayer than anytime in my memory. The education industry has held these politicos in check by virtue of their vast campaign resources. Maybe the taxpayers will just fire these elected officials now that we are a lot angrier.

See video of todays meeting http://www.proimagegroupinc.com/limba/11-6-09/