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Commentary: A Simple Math Problem

By Dan Lenard

Buffalo, NY – This is so simple. As a classic Monty Python skit put it, our local governments have too many Departments of Redundancy Departments. (Think about it) We simply have too many people doing the same job in different communities.

The County Executive ran on the platform of regionalization, making the county government take more responsibility for services now provided by each local government. The idea isn't a failing one. The political will to make such a drastic shift just doesn't exist at this moment, and that must change! The answer is regionalization, and here is a simple math problem to show you some reality.

Let's just look at regional public schools for example.

We have over 30 different school districts in Erie County. Amherst has 3 alone. Amherst, Sweet Home and Williamsville. Cheektowaga has three. Cheektowaga Central, Cheektowaga/Sloan and Maryvale. That means 30 different Superintendents running 30 local school districts. According to the Buffalo News, each earns on average, more than $100,000 a year. 30 superintendents at $100,000 is, $3 million. Each district has two assistant superintendents earning on average $75,000 a year. That's another $4.5 million. That's almost $8 million a year, just to staff senior positions in public school administration.

"Oh it's not that simple," you say. I beg to differ. Yes, each community is different, economically and socially. However, there must be one good superintendent among the 75, or nationwide for that matter, that has the skills needed to run a countywide school district. This is not a new idea. In Montgomery County, in Maryland, outside Washington D.C., there is a County wide school district that serves more students than we have in Erie County. They do it successfully. I've talked to teachers there. They say it works great!

This is a necessary step to help insure the fiscal health of our region. Okay, senior administrators and staff would lose their jobs county wide. I am not paying my taxes to support a bureaucracy that produces nothing. Just look at the Math A and Physics regents exam debacle this year. Millions were spent locally on curriculum adjustments for these new tests by Superintendents, and nothing to show.

This isn't about providing jobs! This isn't about what is fair to members of the Administrators union. It's about EDUCATING our Children! I'm not saying cut education funding. I'm talking about providing more money for student's needs, for paying teachers better, and to fix the crumbling infrastructure that the bureaucrats of education keep screaming about.

This is just one example of how regionalization works. How many police chiefs do we need? How many Highway superintendents? Parks departments? And the list goes on and on.

Everyone knows it makes sense in these times of government cutbacks. Yes it means the loss of secure government jobs. These changes mean pain. Those of you who love Western New York like I do, take a chance, make the sacrifice. Vote for those who propose and will enact change.

Mr. County Executive, pay up on your pledge to push for regionalization. The people will respect your honesty, integrity and chutzpah! It might just get you re-elected.

"Looking Outside the Box" with Dan Lenard is a monthly feature of WBFO News.