School Board Proposes
Referendum with Options
After meeting and corresponding with proponents and opponents of the Rye City School District’s $80 million bond proposal that failed to pass by ten votes last month; contemplating a lower-priced bond ($73.3 million) soon after; and reviewing the results of a survey sent out to the community, the School Board, at its April 9 meeting, came back with a three-part proposition to voters. On June 11, they will be asked to approve or reject: Proposition 1 to fund $70,852,616 in projects; Proposition 2, “which can only be approved if Prop 1 is successful”, to fund $9,137,384 in additional projects; and Proposition 3 to establish a Capital Reserve Fund to enable the District to dedicate surplus funds to future facilities and infrastructure needs “at no additional cost to taxpayers.”
In a letter to parents, the Board wrote, “We heard your feedback and believe the revised bond proposal offers the community choices.”
The parents who were at the April 9 meeting, nearly all of them staunch supporters of the initial bond, expressed a modicum of concern that a three-part proposition might prove perplexing to some voters and increase the risk that a second bond would fail. “We have to keep our eye on the prize. The capital reserve fund might be hard to explain,” offered one resident. Another resident echoed that sentiment, saying, “Choices need to be unambiguous. Let’s redouble our efforts and keep it simple.” One parent commended the Board for arriving at a creative solution that addresses comments from both sides. At least one resident wasn’t convinced that taking several million dollars off the bond will affect the “No” vote.
The Board acknowledged that there may have been an “information deficit” before the first bond, but now every voter can see a line item in front of every project on the District website (www.ryeschools.org).
Board member Katy Keohane Glassberg said it is up to the voters to decide what’s appropriate. “We had the ‘right package’ the first time and this revised proposal is better than the $74 million proposal we considered.” She added, “The capital reserve fund is a tool, another piece of a comprehensive approach.” Fellow Board member Chris Repetto reported that one of the “No” vote concerns was lack of capital reserve.
The School Board’s next meeting is April 23 at 8 p.m.