With less than two months to go before the May 15 Rye City School Board election and budget vote, attendees at the March 27 School Board meeting were all ears regarding who was running and what was in the proposed budget.
By the time the clock struck midnight, only one member, Board President Laura Slack, announced her intention to run again. Ray Schmitt, Vice President, and Josh Nathan said they would not seek reelection.
Mr. Nathan, who has served for nine years, including terms as president and vice president, said with a smile, “I would encourage any of you to consider serving. If anyone needs encouragement, please contact me or I may contact you.” (The deadline for new candidates to file is April 25.)
“I’m proud of the work we’ve done,” said Mr. Schmitt upon announcing his decision not to run for another term.
The majority of Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting focused on the discussion of line items in the proposed budget for 2012-2013. The $74 million budget currently contains cuts to both secretarial and computer aide personnel.
In an open forum format, board members sat with groups of ten or more community members to get their input. The budget now includes $1.7 million in reserve funds with $800,000 carved out for facility projects, all but $35,000 of which will be used to renovate the high school locker rooms.
About 50 members of the community and school staff were in attendance. The evening began with pleas from members of both the technology and secretarial staffs to preserve their full-time positions. The proposed cuts would mean 3.5 workdays for the school principals’ secretaries and half-days for each school’s computer aides as well. The reductions cut approximately $400,000 from the proposed budget.
Speaking on behalf of the computer aides, Bonnie Manheimer told board members that the staff fields over 1,000 support requests each year from teachers, staff, and students. “The computer aide is the sole person in each building. Whom will they reach out to when there’s no one in the computer lab?” she asked.
Carole Andreasen, the District’s Director of Technology, added, “Response times for support calls will definitely increase if these cuts are made. Right now, problems that are called in are usually fixed in 20 minutes to an hour. If there is no one in the labs, those problems will have to wait until the next day.”
The plea from the secretarial staff was equally fervent. “This [cut] will negatively affect the level of service that the City of Rye demands and deserves,” said Dorothy Sorensen, spokesperson for the group and secretary to RHS Principal Patricia Taylor. Ms. Sorensen noted that the school secretaries work closely with parents and staff on a daily basis. “Eliminating the full-time secretary to the principals is not an efficient, practical, or safe way to run a school.”