On April 14, the Rye City School District presented the Board of Education with a “refined” budget proposal that includes an extra $84,000 in state aid…
By Sarah Varney
On April 14, the Rye City School District presented the Board of Education with a “refined” budget proposal that includes an extra $84,000 in state aid, the restoration of the Middle School Modified Athletics Program, and a reduced use of reserve funds from $1.5 million to $1.3 million.
The latest budget proposal estimates the cost of adding full-day kindergarten at $170,000, down from $230,000. Unanticipated teacher retirements, according to Assistant Superintendent for Business Gabriella O’Connor, who made the budget presentation, will reduce costs by $607,134.
The budget still includes a proposed budget override to collect an extra $3,051,524. In the revised proposal, the tax levy increase plus override is 6.85 percent, instead of 7.57 percent.
Several supporters of the budget override spoke about the difference in the monthly amount that will be charged to property owners. “It’s the incremental difference that’s important,” said Jen Nerin, a future Milton School parent whose children are now in pre-school. “It’s $1,265 per $1.67 million [in accessed value], or $105 per month, versus $704 under a tax-cap compliant budget.”
A group of 20 Middle and High school students came to the meeting to express their support of the original, higher budget proposal to ensure that Mandarin and Latin classes are not cut.
Reducing or eliminating the use of reserve funds for operating expenses is a budget cycle or two down the road, according to projections for the 2017/2018 school year. That projected budget shows use of $775,000. Board Finance Committee chair Chris Repetto spoke to the issue: “Remedying this structural funding problem at a time when revenues are declining, enrollment is increasing, and unfunded mandates from Albany keep coming is crucial.” Under the new budget proposal, the fund balance will be $9,199,883, which is slightly above the 10 percent of budget figure previously discussed, Repetto added.
While a healthier fund balance is good news, news of the restoration of the Middle School’s Modified Sports Program was met with great enthusiasm. The program allows middle schoolers to play on intramural teams in sixth grade, and expanded teams in seventh and eighth grade. These sports include all of those cut in 2010: basketball, field hockey, soccer, and lacrosse. Grades seven/eight teams will have both A and B squads.
The end of the meeting was punctuated with a plea from Friends of the Rye Schools co-founder Mary Emery, who stressed that passing the budget that overrides the 2 percent tax cap will not be easy. “Only 19 percent of the 10,000 voters in Rye make it to the polls. That will need to change.” Emery added, “Property values will sink like a stone if this override doesn’t pass.”