School Taxes Bronxville

March 10, 2011

An investment banker who lives in Bronxville is upset his taxes are way too high (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/09/business/09bronxville.html?ref=nyregion) Seems that Mr. Pulkkinen and his wife, Sarah, bought their 5 bedroom house on The High Road in late 2004 for $1.5 Million. Now, Bronxville is a place people move to because they have children and they want their children to attend the very best public schools in America. Great public schools need great teachers, and the teachers in Bronxville are both highly regarded and highly compensated. Yet, Mr. Pulkkinen believes the way to control ever rising property taxes which go to pay for the best schools in America is to reduce teacher compensation!

You would think a competent and (hopefully) well-informed investment banker would be able to figure out that teacher salaries are variable costs, and that the way to control overall expenses (whether in a school district or a private company) is to control fixed costs and to spread those fixed costs over as large an operation as possible.

Fact is, Bronxville is a very small village in the Town of Eastchester. The other village in Eastchester is Tuckahoe which was profiled in the Real Estate section of The Times on March 6, 2011.

The Town of Eastchester is just 5 square miles, with a total population of 32,000 people. Yet, the Town contains 3 independent K-12 public school districts, each with its own superintendent, school board, district headquarters, etc.

Where Mr. Pulkkinen seems to be focused on reducing teacher quality by reducing compensation, I would argue that the road to success is more likely to be in consolidation and sharing of services between the districts.

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4 Responses to “School Taxes Bronxville”

  1. Charlie said

    Dennis,
    Wordpress is excellent, good choice. I used it for years.

    New York State has 700 school districts. It’s something of another era and nobody has the political will or desire to unravel it. It’s a vast employment program, and restricting parents’ choices within the district boundaries, at least in Westchester County, results in racially segregated schools, without offending the sensibilities of the left.

  2. Tom Spitznas said

    Dennis,

    I read the NY Times article. Just 2 comments: I agree that salary reduction is not the best way to go if you want to preserve quality of education, but the problem seems to be benefits, which are way out of line with most in the private sector. Granted, some benefits are now sunk costs (pension payments for e. g.), but others are not and you’ve got to start somewhere. Second, bronxville scools would probably never agree to consolidate with Eastchester, much less Mt. Vernon, Yonkers, New Rochelle. Years ago, I worked with a study group focused on Westchester’s future, and we strongly suggested consolidation of government services, including schools. Except for a few token cases, nothing much came of this. Maybe now the time is ripe.

    As to your blogg. I prefer emails since it alerts me right away and I can comment (with spell check!) quickly using my usual foul language that I only want you to see. Can’t you do both for those who want to remain on your email list?

  3. Carl Calo said

    A larger issue we are all going to have to deal with eventually is ending the Government Education Monopoly.

    If people had a choice, costs would be lower and education much better. Real competition results in lower costs and higher quality.

    • walrus51 said

      Unfortunately, that doesn’t work today for 99% of people who don’t have the financial means to make those choices.

      The NYS Court of Appeals ruled (1982: 439 N.E.2d 359) “…the state constitution guarantees students the right to the opportunity for a ‘sound basic education.’”

      If we could ever get to the table to discuss viable alternatives to what we have today, I would guess that privitizing the K-12 education system would be the right choice.

      It is my firm belief that we have a national imperative to fix our public education system so that every child has access to and the opportunity of a good quality basic education.

      Don’t misunderstand – my son was in private schools beginning in 5th grade, and graduated with honors from a private college. What did it cost? A lot.

      Grades 5 – 8: $60,000+.

      Grades 9-12 (plus a “PG” year): $200,000+.

      College is college (another $200,000+). Hopefully graduate school is on him. Sure.

      What concerned me during those times – particularly in middle school — is that the public alternatives just were not acceptable alternatives.

      We were told my son had “learning differences.”

      What we learned was that large class sizes, rigid class schedules and inflexible curriculum didn’t work for him.

      It’s no wonder K-12 districts spend an inordinate amount on Special Education.

      There is no universal magic bullet. But we’ll likely get closer to a solid, middle of the road solution if we can consolidate some of the administrative issues.

      Those that can will pay extra for AP classes, college prep, SAT help.

      Those that can’t will still get a decent quality basic education.

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