Edgewater will have an adverse impact on Beacon Schools
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We the people of Beacon urge our Planning Board to determine a positive SEQR declaration for the Edgewater development - based on the significant adverse impact it will have on the Beacon City School District.
The Planning Board is well within their right. City Attorney Jennifer Gray said at the November 27th Planning Board meeting: “There’s no statutory definition [for a significant adverse impact]. There’s no real case law definition. Honestly it comes down to a judgement call by the adjudicating body which here is the Planning Board based on all of the evidence in front of them so it’s not a clear answer.”
Edgewater’s developer used a wildly overblown assessment of $60 million in their impact studies and gave a false impression that the school district would receive a windfall in tax surplus from this development. Quite the opposite!
Beacon’s own tax assessor reported a much lower estimated assessment of $34-40 million. Even by using the estimate of 47 school age children - offered by the applicant’s legal representative - this results in tax surplus of $6,506per year. Using the applicant’s calculations, the addition of even one more student will eliminate the supposed surplus and move the district into a tax deficit position.
Further, we are deeply concerned that the applicant is underestimating the cost per student by using only instructional costs from the district budget. This does not take into account non-instructional costs that change with the number of students in the district such as bussing (which includes students that are bussed to private educational institutions and are not included in the instructional budget). A more accurate number to be used for the cost per student is $23,116 (the total budget divided by the number of students in the district) which brings the cost to educate the potential 47 new Edgewater students to $1,086,452, creating a tax deficit of over $200,000 for the district!
There are numerous other concerns that have not been satisfactorily considered:
- The demographics in Beacon are quickly changing and with that, the district will very likely see a significant reduction in state aid,
- Due to the state tax cap, the district will not be able to make up for the loss of state aid in revenue through a tax increase,
- The tax cap barely covers basic cost of living increases, so the district continues to struggle to offer students an education that is competitive with wealthier districts, and
- The combination of a new influx of students with the loss of state aid would prove disastrous for the district which currently offers only one foreign language, one computer science class at the high school level (through a grant), very few AP classes, and some of the lowest paid teachers in Dutchess County.
It is clear that the Edgewater development will have a significant adverse impact on the Beacon City School District.
We the undersigned urge the Planning Board to say just that.
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