At the March 2nd Mamaroneck Schools budget work session, schools Superintendent Dr. Paul Fried announced that administrators had found another million dollars to cut
from the budget.
After using $134,000 to restore a few items to the budget, the new $867,013 reduction means a tax rate increase of 4.45% (down from 5.82% proposed February 9th) and a budget to budget increase of 2% (down from 2.82% on February 9th and down from an initial rollover budget of over 9%). The total staffing reduction is 57.4 people.
The new proposal uses $19,200 to restore funding for half of the MHS and Hommocks Middle School musicals, about which students and adults had spoken in favor of keeping. Dr. Fried said he hopes the PTAs would help with the remaining funding. Also added is a special education teacher.
However, there are new theatrical cuts: the number of PACE optional shows will be reduced from six to four and funding for the Semi-Royal Shakespeare Company is lessened. Also eliminated is the fifth grade Constitution Works program and the Guidance Summer series, and $400,000 of summer painting at Mamaroneck Avenue School, among other items.
Revenues are "increased" by taking $500,000 from the additional funds balance, $50,000 from the workers compensation reserve and $16,000 from the unemployment insurance reserve.
Board members do not fully agree as to the next steps. Robin Nichinsky would like to keep chipping away at at expenditures to get the tax rate increase under 4%, while Harriet Barish, Linnet Tse, Nancy Pearson and Janet Buchbinder are concerned about deeper cuts to programs.
District kindergarten programs were not discussed at this meeting.
To see the power point presentation from March 2nd, click here.
Two community members who spoke differed on the issue of professional development, one believing it important and the other saying not. A gentleman who spoke wondered where the teachers’ association was in all of this.
A woman was concerned not only that “the big picture is broken” but that there is no long range plan to solve the problem. She noted that over the last two years the Mamaroneck schools budget has increased by $7 million while 54 positions were cut; and that a 4.5% tax rate increase is nearly double that of other nearby communities. Dr. Fried agreed that there is no long range solution and stated that he does not believe any district has such a plan. He also pointed out that 78% of the budget is labor costs and that Mamaroneck is in the final year of its labor contracts, noting that many other districts negotiated their contracts more recently in this tougher economy.
On March 9th, a meeting will be held to discuss district assessment report cards and other measurements. It’s at 7:30 pm in the MHS library classroom.
On March 16th, at the Board business session, Dr. Fried will present his recommended budget for 2010-11, in the MHS tiered classroom at 7:30 pm.
On March 20th, at 9 am, the Board will hold a special Saturday meeting, where the Superintendent’s Recommended Budget is reviewed line-by-line with the Board and community in the MHS tiered classroom.
A Board study session will be held April 6th, before the Board of Education adopts a budget on April 20th. The budget will go to community vote on May 18th.
Why has no demanded that Dr fried not resign. His is a perfect example of the problem facing our comunity. He has led us poorly and will continue to have a negative impact after he is gone in regards to the terrible contracts he oversaw.
Meanwhile he is “retiring” with full benifits ( over a hundred thousand dollars a year) only to take the same job in new jersey. Why is this double dipping not. An issue?
All great truths begin as blasphemy[/i] – George Bernard Shaw[/quote]
Hey “FED UP’, some nice questioning. Do you wanna guess how those salaries you asked about compare. Do you wanna compare to chancellor in NYC too?
Some of the answers may be here –
We could also ask about comp plans for a new superintendent? And we could ask why our District doesn’t combine with another that has a superintendent and admin staff, e.g. the SD serving Rye Neck which already also serves some residents of the Village of Mamaroneck?
Or maybe we can ask some really hard questions like what education our district is really delivering and just who is running the show?
How does the superindentent’s salary compare to the superindent’s salary in Hastings? Who is supportive of the “Little Gems” program at Mamk Schools? Is there consensus among the community about paying for all of the extra costs at Mamk Ave School? Would the Superindentent pay for that from his own pension? Or alternatively, what about private funding for these services?
Finally, perhaps the union would be more amenable to give-backs if some of the many inflated aminsitrative salaries were cut or eliminated..all of those Asst. Principals or Curriculum Consultants? Rye Brook, a high performaning school district eliminated school district cut out these positions first in order to keep the tax rate and class size in the elementary schools and high school lower. We have the largest class sizes and highest tax rate of any school district. Does this make sense?
[quote][i]Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.[/i] – Plato[/quote]
We needed only one reason to vote NO on the schools budget. So they gave us 4.45 reasons to vote NO on the schools budget.
As we bemoan the empty stores in the business district, the proposed budget would give us cause to bemoan more of them. Some of us were taught you can’t spend the same money twice.
Fortunately, indications are the proposed budget will fail the approval of the voters, as otherwise we would also likely bemoan the homes for sale due to taxes and those proposing the increased taxes would be the first to leave when their children graduate. (Note: Our Superintendent is leaving first, but he doesn’t live here.)
Oh, another potential savings, the cost of the two votes on the budget. The answer is [b]NO[/b].
Well, if the Super Board Union want to nibble at the bullet rather than to bite it, as long as they end up with a contingency budget, this is fine by me. Once all the discretionary that should not have been there in the first place will be taken out, there will still be annual needs for cuts, and at some early stage, they will have to come from where the real money is, teachers’ pockets. By delaying, they will just have built up that much more resentment against the greedy fat cats, not the Wall Street variety, the other one.
Making a decision to vote [b]NO[/b] on [b]YOUR[/b] school budget is pre-mature. The school administration has done a great job at trimming, but they only have 8% of this budget to work with. The balance of the 92% in costs is coming from the collective bargaining units. They have received increases in the past 3 years of this downturn and will get another significant increase even with 57 staff cuts. Unless they come to the table, you will simply hurt the children and eventually yourself by reducing the quality of your schools that will in turn hurt your property values.
Between the March 16th and April 20th we will see the true character of our union employees.
See more of my comments at: [url]http://tinyurl.com/y8sgbcn[/url]
I donâ€™t disagree with your premise, but what would you have the school board do now? We have 1 more year left on this contract, a contract that was negotiated in an irresponsible manner. Somehow there must have been projections that revenue would increase. Either the board expected that the community would keep spending more or that government would come in and provide more aid. No one projects this way for budget purposes.
The bargaining units will come to the table for the next contract this coming year. That is the time where there is an opportunity to revamp, not this coming year. It is up to the unions to come to the table now unilaterally since we canâ€™t force them to and help maintain the quality of education that we all want.
Short of that more cutting through a No vote will simply cut services for the children. There have already been 8 teams eliminated, funding for arts eliminated, school trips eliminated, positions for help in financial aid eliminated and capital items such as painting eliminated not to mention 57 staff positions and over $650 taken from reserves. We are in fact still $1.3mm short, this is all in the compensation line.
I have not said that I would vote for the 2.1% budget increase, but I am saying itâ€™s pre-mature to take the NO vote position. The position everyone should be taking is to get the unions to the table now, develop an interim contract for 2 years and then work on a long term plan that balances school investment with what the community can afford.
[quote][i]A fool and his money are soon parted. The rest of us wait for tax time.[/i] – Source unknown.[/quote]
No, Mr. Sacks, they have and had 100% to work with, just as in the past when decisions affecting the future were made. They, the Schools Board, the District Superintendent and others must lead. They must bring to the table all who are necessary to bring us a budget that provides for excellence in real education at a price that is affordable. That price, BTW, now is capped at the “Contingency Budget”. [b]Affordable is no tax increase, and possibly it will be a tax decrease[/b]. Such need not reduce the quality of the schools, just make them more productive and educative. And as to property values, a favorite scare tactic, remember the facts, the harmful affect on property values of tax increases.
The decisions of the those in the community to vote [b]NO[/b] are not premature. If anything, they should have been made years ago. So now, those in positions of leadership in the School District must ACT in leadership and management capacities, while the community on any tax increase, votes [b]NO[/b].
[quote][i]Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.[/i] – William James[/quote]
Mr. Sacks, it is sincerely a pleasure to have this discussion with you. It appears that your mind is open and we recognize the value of education. Can we agree that neither continued discussions or the path to the solution is lined with appeals to motherhood and apple pie, as the goal is not to preach values but to find a way to achieve a goal.
Yes, the School District will be unable to fund all the things people may have wanted or expected. Yes people expected more than that to which they were entitled. Not the only time this error has been made. Likely unfortunately it will be made again.
But, not one thing you’ve listed as cuts is causing someone to go hungry or to lose a roof over their head. Tax increases are doing that to others. Yes, and some may be our neighbors.
Some of the most educated and most accomplished of our nation never had any of the things that are proposed to be cut. Many of them never will. Many have much less other than more learning. And the people of our community are a vital force, if we realize that the School District mission is not to be [i]’in loco parentis.’ [/i]
You asked what the School Board should do NOW. One who possesses the specific answer should choose not to disclose it openly in advance here – really sorry, Editrix ;) . This situation is obviously a positioning negotiation of many parties. Public disclosure of approach in such situation would be contra-indicated.
Some previous School Board in our School District committed to a contract which you said was irresponsible. If the current School Board is lacking for answers now, well then perhaps it should resign, the Superintendent is leaving. You see, some might argue that the elimination of the School District may go some way to answering the current problem.
But assuming, that there is nothing to be done now because of a contract and that the meek will re-inherit power when the contract expires is a dream. Unfortunately, one that provides a sound sleep only for those who will be moving soon from our community.
Believe that there is a better way. There is the easy road and the one less traveled. One leads to the short term, the other to success.
[quote]The issues go way beyond … the overreliance on property tax, the logic of small independent districts. … there are lots of things no longer affordable. The old normal in public schools may be one of them.
– Peter Applebonme, NYT.[/quote]
Mr. Sacks ‘sited’ (pun intended) [url] http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03…ome&st=cse[/url] an interesting story. One in which we, as well as many others, probably could find much agreement. Worth reading.
It’s a close to home version of a story that unfortunately we’ve heard too often recently, but the others are generally about places to which here could say its not us. But it is us, it is our neighbors, and now more of us know, it is time.
[quote][i]The decisions of the those in the community to vote NO are not premature. If anything, they should have been made years ago.[/i] – Oreo[/quote]