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Shared Service Research Brief

Shared School Services: 
A Common Response to Fiscal Stress 

(Download: School District Shared Services Brief)
(Download: Municipality Shared Service Brief)

John W. Sipple
Associate Professor, Cornell University

Shared Logo

Much has been made recently about the practice of shared municipal and school district services. Shared services are argued to promote enhanced efficiency and cost savings, better quality service and expertise, improved access to limited services, and now a key provision in a proposal by Governor Cuomo: “It requires them to get past their turf and get past their silo..if you want the people in your district to get a tax credit from the state — you’re going to have to take concrete steps vis-a-vis shared services and consolidation.” (Gov. Andrew Cuomo, 1/6/2014)

This research brief, “Shared School Services: A Common Response to Fiscal Stress“, aims to contribute to these discussions using 2013 data from across New York State. This brief illustrates, for the first time, the prevalence and proportion of school districts engaged in 28 distinct services across the state, including a breakdown of practices across urbanicity (e.g., urban, rural) and wealth CRS logo(e.g., low & high need). Highlighting the motivators, obstacles, outcomes and prevalence of shared service arrangements, this brief illustrates the common practices of shared services. Some services are reported to drive efficiency while other services are much more geared toward enhancing service quality without any claims of cost savings (We offer a similar analysis of shared municipal services in a separate brief listed below).

We hope this information promotes local discussions and analyses to identify opportunities and understandings for why a decision may be made to initiate or end a shared service. We also hope that as property tax policy conversations continue, this data will serve as a baseline for the current status of shared service provision across NYS.

We want to thank the NYS Council of School Superintendents for helping us gather the data from School Superintendents across NYS. This brief is part of a broader research project on Inter-municipal Cooperation, which includes a companion brief on shared municipal services using data from counties, cities, towns, villages:

Homsy, G.; B. Qian, Y. Wang and M. Warner (2013). Shared Services in New York State: A Reform that Works, Summary of Municipal Survey in NYS, 2013, Shared Services Project, Dept of City and Regional Planning, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. (

Please contact us should you have any questions or comments about this work. 
(Download: School District Shared Services Brief)
(Download: Municipality Shared Service Brief)

John W. Sipple, PhD
Associate Professor
Department of Development Sociology
Cornell University

ILR Brief on Teacher Salaries

Bargaining for Better Schools

Teacher Pay Disparities Analyzed by Cornell Labor Experts

Median salary rates for teachers with a master's degree and 10 years of experience by regionWide variation in teacher salaries is documented in the New York State Teacher Salary Report, an analysis prepared by ILR’s Bargaining for Better Schools project. The report can be found here (pdf).

“This is the first study that compares salaries across every teacher union contract in New York state,” said Sally Klingel, director of Labor-Management Relations at the Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution.

The Bargaining for Better Schools project is an initiative of the ILR School through the Scheinman Institute in collaboration with the Worker Institute at Cornell.

“The project aims to increase dialogue and learning among school administrations, union leaders, citizens and policymakers with support from accurate data on relationships between employment practices and school improvement,” Klingel said.

All of the state’s 695 local public school districts are included in the salary report.

Report highlights include:

  • The statewide median salary (half the contracts pay more and half pay less) for a starting teacher with a master’s degree is $43,928. After 20 years, that median salary would be $69,460. Figures vary by region and by community.
  • Experienced teachers in some areas – mainly downstate communities – can earn $100,000 or more; in other areas, experienced teachers are paid in the $40,000 to $60,000 range.
  • Upstate teachers in regions with the lowest median salaries – the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley – make about 40 percent less than downstate peers with similar qualifications and experience.
  • Districts located in towns and in rural areas generally do not pay teachers as much as suburban schools, which have the highest teacher salaries. City districts also tend to pay less than suburban districts.

“In considering the need to attract and retain high-quality educators, it is important to consider relative salary levels,” said Alex Colvin, Cornell’s Martin F. Scheinman Professor of Conflict Resolution.

Teacher contract data from public school districts is public information; the report drew contract information from DigitalCommons@ILR and SeeThroughNY. The most recent school district collective bargaining agreements available were analyzed to compile the database.

In 2014, the project team will release reports about New York’s Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) teacher evaluation systems and about employment provisions found in collective bargaining agreements.

For more information, visit

Inaugural Blog Post

Welcome to my initial blog and to our newly designed website! This fall will mark the 5th year of the NY State Center for Rural Schools and a critical time for the future direction of the nearly 400 rural NYS school districts and the communities they serve. It has been my great pleasure to serve as Director for these past five years, particularly the 1000’s of interactions with committed educators, politicians, and policymakers all trying to improve the opportunities for children and communities across this great state. We’ve also benefitted from many fabulous relationships with Bruce Fraser and the Rural Schools Association of NYS, Rod Howe and David Brown of CaRDI, Joe Francis and Jan Vink of Cornell’s Program in Applied Demographics, and Sean Brady of Prism Decision Systems.

First a comment on our new website. We began the Center in the Fall of 2008 and hastily created our first site. Two years later (2010), we had learned what was useful to our audience and did a healthy redesign to reflect the new reality of where we were and what role we played in NYS politics, research, and in rural communities. This included an expanded set of data tools, announcements, Facebook integration and other minor changes.

This current set of changes represents a complete rebuild of the site (moving to WordPress) with the singular goal of making it more interactive, useful, and easier to use and navigate. There are 3 most obvious changes:

  1. Bi-Weekly BlogWill highlight the range of timely opportunities and challenges facing New York’s schools and quick insights into the latest and most relevant research from researchers from Cornell and beyond. We already have 10 researchers from four different colleges at Cornell lined up to share their relevant work throughout the rest of 2013 and well into 2014. We are very excited to share the broad intellectual resources and show our audience how relevant and useful this work can be and to enhance our connections to our broad partners and constituents.
  2. Improved & Integrated Data Tools – For what we are best known, the tools are now highlighted in a main tab and each tool has its own page. The tools are integrated into this site and so users no longer have to leave the site to use the tools. We have been updating (with new data) and tweaking functionality to respond to user input.
  3. Substantive Resources & Research Focus – The Center continues to partner with more faculty, researchers, and policy folks to bring more relevant research and resources to the fingertips of our users. Building knowledge has long been one of our goals and this new portion of the website will finally bring this to reality. The Blog will highlight the new additions, but we recommend you peruse the topics across the website and share your knowledge and resources with us.

NY State’s rural schools are facing the full impact of the property tax cap, continued constraint on state aid, initiating APPR and PARC assessments, Common Core Training, and many districts are experiencing declining enrollments and depleted fund balances. We at the Center continue to aim to fulfill our mission of building Connections, Capacity and Knowledge for NY’s rural school districts and state leaders.

Please share with us your interests, wishes, and ideas to help us be more useful as we enter our 5th year. Join our e-mailing list on the main page of our site, join us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter. The more we work together the more we can all push for a brighter future for the children of rural NY and the communities in which they are growing up.

John W. Sipple