School Board’s First Pitch: New Standards, Budget Challenges

Each year, the Little League parade to kick off the baseball season heralds spring. But the yearly combined meeting of the City Council and the Rye City Schools, which traditionally takes place on parade day, can be a less joyous harbinger of the season.

Published April 21, 2013 5:00 AM
2 min read

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Each year, the Little League parade to kick off the baseball season heralds spring. But the yearly combined meeting of the City Council and the Rye City Schools, which traditionally takes place on parade day, can be a less joyous harbinger of the season.

 

By Sarah Varney

 

Each year, the Little League parade that kicks off the baseball season heralds spring. The yearly combined meeting of the City Council and the Rye City Schools, which traditionally takes place earlier that morning, can be a less joyous harbinger of the season, but it’s always educational.

 

Updating the Council on the schools situation on Saturday, Superintendent Dr. Frank Alvarez began by talking about how well students had done on the most recent tests. He noted that grades 3-7 scored among the highest in the county on English/Language Arts and Math tests; SAT results yielded the strongest performance to-date; and 87 percent of students taking AP classes scored 3 or higher. On the subject of Common Core standards, he acknowledged that these mandated tests are more rigorous. “This year’s testing, which began this week for grades 3-8, will create a new baseline, and we may see a drop in results in the coming years. A lot of this may be transformational, but on the other hand it is causing a lot of concern,” he said.

 

Dr. Alvarez estimates that more than $150,000 has been spent to put the Annual Professional Performance Review in place and future costs will rise. He said his team “already realizes that there may be a better way to do this.”

 

Outgoing Assistant Superintendent for Business Kathleen Ryan detailed the schools budget, which was adopted at Tuesday’s meeting. The proposed budget totals $76,758,000 and the public adoption vote is May 21. The administration cut $2.3 million from the original budget plan but that didn’t make much difference in light of the 37 percent increase in mandated contributions to the teacher and employee pension funds, according to Ryan. The situation is unlikely to get better over the next two or three years, she added.

 

On a positive note, Ryan told Council members that although the science building project at Rye High School is three to four weeks behind, the groundbreaking ceremony will still take place in mid-June.

 

City Council members Julie Killian and Laura Brett noted that the city is facing the same set of unfunded mandates and steeply rising pension costs as the School District. The situation is unlikely to change, said Peter Jovanovich, deputy mayor.

 

 

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