Judge Latwin Rules on Our “No Wrap, No Bail” Headline
Lest any reader misconstrue the headline, I want to reassure them that, if arrested, the absence of stylish outer clothing, or turkey, bacon, and avocado with bean sprouts in a burrito shell will not prohibit the Rye City Court from setting bail. The phrase refers to no rap sheet, not a mink stole or handy lunch.
New York’s Criminal Procedure Law 530.20 (2)(b) says in relevant part:
No local criminal court may order recognizance or bail with respect to a defendant charged with a felony unless and until: (i) The district attorney has been heard in the matter …and (ii) The court has been furnished with a report of the division of criminal justice services concerning the defendant’s criminal record if any or with a police department report with respect to the defendant’s prior arrest record — [the so-called rap sheet].
If the defendant is charged with a felony, the City Court cannot set bail without a rap sheet. Hence, No Rap, No Bail.
Joseph L. Latwin, City Court Judge
All Will Benefit From the Bond
Every Rye citizen benefits from a strong school system. Our children are advantaged by the opportunities that arise from a strong education. Our homeowners reap the rewards that an effective school system provides to all of our home values, and our entire society benefits from providing our youth with the best educational system that we can afford.
There is no doubt that Rye High School needs facility improvements. Anyone who has walked the halls recently knows that. And ensuring a sufficient number of classrooms to accommodate student growth is a real issue. In a recent letter to the editor, Terry DeBartolo explained the growth in her own children’s class sizes — from 199 students in the class of 2010 to 230 in the class of 2012 to 275 for the current seventh-grade class. That growth is not subsiding any time soon. Our middle daughter is in second grade with a class size of approximately 270. The current third grade also exceeds 270 students. We need more classrooms to accommodate our children — it’s that simple.
Times are tough and the 2% tax cap presents new challenges. But the volunteer members serving on Rye’s School Board should be commended for the recent bond proposal. The bond is narrowly tailored to address the overcrowding conditions at the High School, and the Board is using reserves for other necessary improvements and to mitigate tax increases in the regular operating budget. Interest rates for the proposed bond are low — this is the time to do it.
The children of Rye who will benefit from these facility improvements cannot vote for themselves. We need to go vote for them. Please join us in voting ‘Yes” for the school bond on Tuesday, March 13.
Kerri and Joe Sack
Providing Adequate Space for Growing and Learning
I have been closely following the growing enrollment at Rye Middle School and Rye High School for the last five years. The red flag went up when I attended a
Board of Education meeting in 2007 and the Board was discussing ways to recapture space at the MS/HS campus to deal with space and enrollment issues. Since that time, two classrooms have been squeezed in on the third floor of the building, a performing arts/dance studio has been converted to classroom space, central administration and special education offices have moved to other locations, and two portables providing four additional classrooms have been parked outside the building.
Unfortunately, these measures will not be enough to provide adequate classroom space for the number of students known to be coming up from the elementary schools.
I’ve seen the growth with my own children’s class sizes. My oldest son graduated in 2010 with a class of 199 students. My high school senior is in a class of 230 and my seventh grader is in a class of 275. That’s nearly a 40% increase over seven years.
I will be voting ‘Yes” to support the bond on March 13. I believe the strength of the community lies in the strength of the schools.
No Opposition to New Bond from Citizen Committee
Last fall, the School District proposed a $19,996,000 bond issue. Included in the information related to that proposal was a forecast showing school taxes increasing 25% over the next five years. The Committee for Strong Sustainable Schools opposed that proposal primarily because of what it believed to be an excessive tax burden placed on the citizens of Rye. The committee was also concerned about what appeared to be an unnecessarily high level of reserves that might better be used to reduce the bond issue or the future tax burden.
The School District has now come back to the community with a new proposal: a $16.3 million bond issue and an undertaking to hold future school tax increases to 2% per year for five years. (The New York State tax cap is approximately 2%. School tax increases in excess of the tax cap require a 60% approval by voters.)
Concerned about increasing enrollment at the middle/high school, the Board has renewed the request for approval for the construction of new classrooms and labs while dropping the plans for improvements to some existing facilities. This enabled them to reduce the bond amount by $3.6 million. The School Board has also acknowledged the concerns of the citizens about the tax burden by promising to limit tax increases to 2% per year for the next five years. In order to help meet this pledge, the Board is proposing to use some $4 million of reserves.
Although the Committee for Strong Sustainable Schools would have preferred that the construction project were postponed for a year — while a detailed five-year plan for expense control was developed — we also believe the School Board must decide these administrative matters. The committee’s role is to determine if the tax burden of these decisions is reasonable. In this case, we believe the current School Board members and the current administrators, with whom we have had a dialogue, do understand the concerns of the community and are sincere in their aim to reduce expense growth. Consequently, we do not plan to oppose this bond proposal.
Edward B. Dunn
Committee for Strong Sustainable Schools
The Time Is Now for School Bond
I’m encouraged to see the active involvement in the debate our community is having regarding the Rye High School facilities and the future needs there. Most of us came to our little town, at one time or another, at least in part for the schools. Our school system touches all of us, with or without kids enrolled. Our schools are part of the fabric of Rye, and the High School its crown jewel.
It’s easy for me to vote for the bond. Not only am I an alumnus (1984), but my son is in the Middle School now and I have a few more that will be following him. My hope is that everyone will support this bond, from new couples to empty nesters, and see it as what we ought to do as a community.
I’m also aware of the inadequacy of the current High School to meet the needs of our growing student body. Every classroom, for every period, is used every school day at the High School. And you’d better have a real sense of purpose if you walk the halls between classes or you will not get anywhere among the swelling sea of bodies.
A head count at the elementary schools shows that this is not a blip. The High School is simply out of room and it’s not going to get any better. The bond before us now will give us a net gain of ten classrooms while removing the classroom trailers on Milton Road that are an eyesore.
Tough economic conditions have impacted all of us these last few years. If you believe Clint Eastwood, it’s “halftime in America” and we’re going to be fine. Regardless, this is an ideal climate to update the High School. Fiscal pressure has resulted in an austere plan. Rather than the Taj Mahal, which we may have been saddled with in 2007 or so, we’re getting a sensible update to a stressed facility. Add to this the remarkably low interest rates we will be locking in and it becomes clear that the time is now.
It was during another difficult time that the High School was first constructed. In 1931, at perhaps the lowest point of the Great Depression, stone was being quarried from Rye Lake to enclose the structure we see today. The grounds for this great undertaking were also chosen carefully.
Brookside, the former home of Ebenezer Clark, one of the most instrumental public servants in Rye’s history, was razed so that our High School could stand.
This is the right bond at the right time. Let’s continue the prudent investment of our forefathers in our schools and come together at this important time. I urge you to vote on March 13.
Take a Stand for Excellence
Since the vote on the original $19 million school bond was rejected, I have been left wondering if those who voted ‘No’ have visited the high school during school hours. Had everyone witnessed firsthand the overcrowding and disrepair, the results would have hopefully been very different. It is infuriating to think that if the reduced bond is not passed March 13, our children will be sitting in classes that are well beyond capacity, and using science labs that are decades past their useful life.
We can all sympathize with the struggling economy, and the ever-increasing taxes, because we have all been affected. However, this is a community that is built around family and good schools. That, over everything, takes precedence.
Taxes, no matter what, will always fluctuate. But what will not is the opportunity to give our children the education they rightfully deserve by living in this great community.
The Rye City School District cannot continue to provide the excellent education that it is known for, if it is not given the resources to do so right now. I urge the community to come out on March 13, and vote ‘Yes’ for the reduced bond. Stand behind our children and the continued excellence in our schools.
Time to Step Up, Dads of Rye
Soon the dads of Rye will have a rare opportunity to be the deciding factor in whether Rye maintains its reputation as a strong community with top-notch schools, or risks an unfortunate decline. More than 1,400 parents did NOT vote in the recent election, and most of those parents were men. Fortunately, a revised bond will be up for a vote on March 13. Dads, we have another chance.
To me, this issue is somewhat of a no-brainer. Without the urgent financing for these infrastructure improvements, the schools will become even more overcrowded, the science program will be an also-ran compared to other schools in Westchester, and our community will put at risk our coveted “Gold Medal” school ranking – something which we all know fuels the high property values here in Rye.
So far, it has been the moms of Rye that have been doing the heavy lifting – contributing to the dialogue, educating the public on the issues, and mobilizing the necessary support. It’s time for the men to step up now. Skip the morning jog, take the early train home, use an absentee ballot – do whatever it takes, just please
take the time on March 13 to vote ‘Yes’ for the school bond. The community urgently and desperately needs your support, too.