By Peter Jovanovich
Tuesday, May 16 is a very important day on the Rye City School District calendar. The 2017-18 District Budget is up for voter approval, and Karen Belanger and Blake Jines-Storey are running for reelection as members of the Board of Education. No other candidates are running. Voters will cast their ballots at the Rye Middle School Gymnasium; polling hours are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Proposed spending for fiscal year 2017-18 is $86,930,075, which represents a 2.2% increase over the previous year’s budget. A tax levy increase of 2.64%, within the State Tax Cap law, plus the use of $2.1 million in undesignated Fund Balance, balances the District’s budget for next year.
The budget maintains all current programs and adds four teaching positions to handle projected enrollment growth. In addition, the budget provides for a staff psychologist, occupational therapist, and four full-time equivalents in the fields of art, music, physical education, foreign language, and English as a new language.
Many of the District’s buildings are historic gems of educational architecture. They are also in need of constant repair. The District budget for 2017-18 sets aside $775,000 for mundane but necessary items like roof repair, floor refinishing, masonry pointing, and repainting. Among the budgeted one-time projects are creating more storage space in the Media Center, renovating the Health Office for ADA compliance, and replacing the outdoor patio at Milton School.
Karen Belanger is seeking her third term on the Board. She has served as liaison to the Curriculum Council as well as a member of the Audit, Communications, Finance, Policy and Technology committees. An 18-year resident of Rye, Belanger holds an MBA and was a consultant for the Boston Consulting Group.
Blake Jines-Storey’s is seeking his second term on the Board. He currently serves as Chair of the Technology Committee and as a member of the Facilities and Curriculum committees. He has worked as a consulting engineer for a variety of businesses and government agencies. Currently, he’s Chief Technology Officer of Zachy’s Wine International.
Karen Belanger & Blake Jines-Storey