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Governor Cuomo Awards Competitive Education Grants to Four Districts That Found More Than $21 Million in Efficiency Savings and Can Serve as Models to Other Districts

Location: Albany, NY

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today praised four model school districts that found more than $21 million in efficiency savings and have been awarded more than $12 million over three years as part of the Governor's competitive education grants program.

The competitive education grants for management efficiency rewards school districts that have implemented innovative strategies to improve the overall efficiency of school district management, while maintaining or improving student achievement. School districts across the state were invited to apply for a grant by demonstrating innovative cost-savings that were implemented in their districts.

"The simple truth is that New York State spends more money per pupil than any other state in the nation, yet continually lags behind in student performance," Governor Cuomo said. "We cannot continue to ask taxpayers for more and more money; rather our education system must become more efficient and focus spending on student achievement. We must pay for performance and the four districts we are awarding today stand out as leading examples of where innovation and bold action can reduce inefficiency and unnecessary costs. Reforms like the ones put in by these awardees demonstrate how districts across the state can better ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent toward giving our children a top rate education."

Over the past two years, Governor Cuomo has increased State Education Aid by 8.6% (a 4.2% increase in the 2012-2013 school year, and a 4.4 increase in the 2013-2014 school year for a total of $1.7B). Statewide increases in school spending, State support for education, and school property taxes have far outpaced the rate of inflation over the last ten years. New York public schools spend more per pupil ($18,618) than any other state and 76 percent above the national average. However, New York's high education spending has not translated into equally high student performance.

The following four school districts won the Governor's competitive education grants for management efficiency -- these districts achieved a total of $21,770,300 efficiency savings and were awarded a total of $12,261,261 from the state.

Queensbury Unified School District
Superintendent: Dr. Douglas W. Huntley

The Queensbury UFSD was awarded $561,261 over 3 years for identifying a total of $623,623 in eligible cost-savings. This was accomplished by:
An overall Energy Management Program, which included the virtualization of district servers, an installation of wireless controls and desktops, as well as the utilization of software and applications available through Google Apps; and
Consolidation of Central Office Support Staff, achieved through attrition and the reassignment of duties to remaining staff.

Newburgh City School District
Superintendent Ralph Pizzo

The Newburgh City School District was awarded $3,600,000 over three years for identifying a total of $5,733,920 in eligible cost-savings. This was accomplished by:
Realigning bell times district-wide, which allowed for a reduction of 5.5 buses contained in the bus fleet contract and allowed the district to reduce individual contracts for special education and parochial student transportation;
Launching a competitive procurement for existing contracts pertaining to the transportation of students in the district;
Revising the district's health insurance carrier and rates; and
An overall Energy Cost Avoidance Program (CAP).

Rochester City School District
Superintendent Bolgen Vargas

The Rochester City School District was awarded $4,500,000 over 3 years for identifying a total of $9,544,293 in eligible cost-savings. This was accomplished by:
An overall reduction in the Contractual Services contained in the Chief of Schools and
Maintenance of Plant budget categories;
Utilization of internal resources and expertise to support professional development for district staff;
Consolidation of Central Office Support Staff achieved through attrition and reorganization; and
Verification of Dependent benefits related to the district's health insurance program.

Kenmore-Tonawanda City School District
Superintendent Mark Mondanaro
The Kenmore-Tonawanda School District was awarded $3,600,000 over 3 years for identifying a total of $5,868,464 in eligible cost-savings. This was accomplished by:
Migrating employees to a self-insured health plan;
Consolidation of Central Office Staff, achieved through attrition and a re-assignment of duties to remaining staff;
Reconfiguration of existing bus routes and the subsequent elimination of a portion of the contracted bus fleet (10 buses); and
Developing an overall Energy Management Plan, which included the adjustment of building temperatures, installation of motion sensors for lighting, and the staggering of building start times to avoid increased energy consumption rates.

Public education in New York represents a significant commitment of State and local resources. With total spending levels exceeding $58 billion, New Yorkers have maintained the highest per-pupil spending levels in the nation -- even in these difficult financial times. Not only is education the largest area of State spending, it is also the largest component of local property taxes. This substantial investment is a reflection of New York State's long-standing commitment to providing opportunity for all students. Although New York makes significant financial investments in education (per pupil spending is the highest among states), New York lags behind in graduation rates. Only 74 percent of our students graduate from high school and only 35 percent are college or career ready. Recognizing that a prosperous future for the State is dependent upon the quality of public education, the 2013-14 Executive Budget continues the work of building an education system that ensures every child has an opportunity for a sound, basic education, and that all of our children are educated in schools with excellent teachers and leaders, who are accountable for student success.

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