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Rye Neck School Budget Proposes Staff Reduction, 2.17 Percent Increase in Levy

The Rye Neck 2012-13 proposed school budget was presented at the April 4 board meeting.

The Rye Neck School district has proposed to cut 6.8 staff positions—the majority of which are kindergarten teaching assistants—in their efforts to stay within the two percent tax cap in this year’s budget.  The $36.7 million 2012-13 proposed budget is an approximately $816K increase over last year— a 2.28 percent increase over the $35.8 budget in 2011-12— with a 2.17 percent increase in the tax levy over last year.

Bearing in mind that going over the allowable tax levy amount would require voter approval by a 60 percent supermajority, the district was conservative in their approach to the budgetary process for fear that a zero contingency rate would cause an additional $707,645 in cuts to be made should the vote not pass muster with voters.

“What it’s really done is take away all the control,” said Superintendent Dr. Peter Mustich, continuing, “It’s taken away the ability for local citizens to decide what’s important for them in their particular school district.”

Although the district did not provide numbers for property tax increases for average assessed homes, there is a property tax calculator on the school’s website that allows residents to calculate their individual rates.

Although the district considered many areas for reductions including increasing class sizes in the elementary grades and cutting fifth grade Exploratory Latin, the proposed budget included cuts to a net total of 5.8 staff positions, including 6 non-mandated kindergarten teaching assistants and several part-time positions: a .5 music teacher, .1 math teacher and .2 Latin teacher, saving a net total of approximately $257K. A single fourth grade teaching position will be added.

“We can’t raise revenue any other way except property taxes…grant funding has slowly dried up as you will see…the only other option you have is to begin to cut programs and change what happens in the local schools,” said Mustich, about the cuts in staffing.

With 76 percent of the budget allotted for mandated salary and benefits costs, and a reductions in revenues like state aid and interest payments, the district is in the same predicament as many schools and municipalities throughout New York State.

Since 2008-09 the district has trimmed 16 staff members in an effort to cut costs from the budget, decreasing from 234 to 218 in 2012-13.  

 

Budget hearing and adoption will take place on April 17 at 7:30 p.m. at Rye Neck High School; the final budget hearing will be on May 2 at 7:30 p.m.; the budget vote will be on May 15 from 7 a.m.-9 p.m. in the Rye Neck MS/HS Library. A full presentation and proposed budget can be found here on the school's website.

 

 

 

George Willis April 16, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Westchester pays the HIGHEST taxes in the country and we're STILL experiencing cuts to education? What's wrong with this picture? When will the New York taxpayer wake up? How about trimming the excessive salaries, benefits and pensions of teachers instead of cutting school programs and staffing? Salaries, benefits and pensions account for over 75% of the school budget - so cut the teachers salaries, benefits and pensions by 10% - it will more than restore all of the school programs and staffing. Let's be honest... teachers are getting 12 months pay for eight months work anyway. In fact - teachers get TWO raises every year! They receive a raise in their contract and they receive something called a "STEP" raise! What other industry gives their employees two raises each year?! This is insanity. Considering hours worked, the average teacher in Westchester makes over $200,000 in salary, benefits, and pensions! Cue the teacher response in 3, 2, 1...."Technically I work eight months but I grade student papers seven days each week until 3 AM, during Christmas break, winter break, spring break and all summer too!". Knowing several teachers in Westchester I can confirm that this argument is a joke. The typical teacher get their work done within school hours. When the typical teacher isn't at school they're not working. Wake up New York taxpayers! Cut teacher salaries, benefits and pensions...not school programs and staff!!!
BG7 April 16, 2012 at 05:59 PM
As a parent, my opinion is Rye Neck teachers are worth what they are paid. Costs rise each year for everything, period. The Rye Neck schools are one of the reasons the area is so attractive and keeps house prices good. I also think kindergarten assistants are important - at that age kids need more individual attention than as they get older. However, they've got to make a cut somewhere. Costs rise each year for every service provided, education isn't somehow magically immune.
George Willis April 16, 2012 at 08:09 PM
I'm aware of inflation. Are you aware of the increase in teacher salary, benefits, and pension costs compared to inflation over the last 10 years? Unfortunately too many people are quick to say "Oh well, things cost more" and then just write a bigger check each year. Let me ask you this - Let's say the teachers paid half as much for their healthcare as the average Rye Neck taxpayer. Would you consider having them contribute more to their healthcare if it would save the six assistant teacher jobs? Let's say the average Rye Neck taxpayer has to wait until 67 to retire and the average Rye Neck teacher could retire at 57. Would you consider a higher retirement age for teachers if it would save some the six assistant teacher jobs? If I may ask - Have you ever worked? Have you ever received TWO annual raises in any of you jobs? I understand costs rise...but I think it's more complicated than "costs rise" and "they've got to make a cut somewhere". It's ECON 101 that when you're looking to cut costs you need to look at the largest costs. Teacher compensation is 75% of the budget. I find it amazing that most people in the school district know nothing about the average STEP raises and contract raises the teachers have received over the last ten years, how much they pay for their healthcare coverage, at what age they can retire, etc. If the taxpayers knew this information they wouldn't think twice about modifying these costs instead of cutting school programs and cutting the staff.
Balar Gazor April 16, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Pity the district and its trimming. Now, pray remind me of howmany positions were added in the go-go 2000's ? And for a shape of things to come, see here http://trs.illinois.gov/subsections/press/TRSBoardResolution.pdf. They call it "the new reality" - soon playing in a State near you.

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