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Mamaroneck School Budget Vote: Pro and Con

There has been much discussion in the community about a tax increase, eliminating the APPLE program at Mamaroneck High School, the Superintendent’s salary and more.

The proposed MUFSD budget is available on the district website. The vote on this budget requires a “super majority” (60%.)

Here are two opposing viewpoints.


PRO
 Melanie Kraut, President PTA, Murray Avenue School

Dear Editor,

May 16th, we will be voting on a new school budget. As responsible citizens and voters, we are obligated to make sure we know the facts of the budget.

Increasing the tax levy to 2.25%:  The NY State Tax Cap, set in 2012, is 2%. However, the 2% Tax Cap does not take into account a student population that, over the past 6 years, has had a net increase of 462 students.

Our per pupil spending over the past 6 years has remained relatively flat, thanks to shared staff across schools, targeted staff reductions and careful budgeting, but simple math tells us that at some point, the budget needs to exceed the 2% tax cap to maintain our per pupil spending as well as our contractual obligations to our employees.

If you are concerned about your taxes increasing, it is significant to note that tax CAP and tax RATE are different. Tax CAP is defined above. Tax RATE is based upon the Town’s latest assessments (which apply to all three relevant municipalities) and is projected to decrease by 0.94%.  This means that if your home assessment goes up less than 1% or goes down, your school taxes will actually cost you less than they did last year, under this new budget.

Mamaroneck Schools Superintendent Robert Shaps will not receive a $396,000 salary. His salary is $271,922, which is not an increase from last year, and is in the middle to low end of what surrounding districts are paying their Superintendents. The 6% increase referred to is made up of $76,131 for salaries of support staff in his office and a $21,000 retention bonus for Dr. Shaps, granted by the BOE.

The APPLE program is a school within a school that serves high risk kids in our district. This program, which has been around for 40 years, is now seeing very low enrollment (9 kids this year, and roughly the same in recent years), despite the district inviting over 30 kids to participate this year. The decision to “re-design” a program that keeps kids with the same four core teachers for all four years, with additional psychological and counseling support, was made because the model has become unsustainable. Parents whose kids are in this program are very concerned, because the “re-design” makes their children mainstream, with a full time psychologist and academic liaison, which is not the same level of support as before. The district has assured these families that they will continue to closely monitor the kids and will continue to support them throughout their time at MHS.

If this budget gets voted down, we can’t pull funds from our contractual obligations to employees, so funds will be pulled from student spending.  Class sizes are in jeopardy of getting bigger – not smaller. Athletics, support services and many other programs would need to be trimmed or cut because we simply wouldn’t have the money to keep them going.

 

AGAINST District parent who wishes to remain Anonymous

To the Editor:

Those in favor of the Proposed Budget talk about the cost of health care for employees going up but rarely mention the Superintendent’s office 6% salary increase or the salary cost for yet another Assistant Superintendent.

But most importantly, do they really know anything about APPLE?  I doubt it–if one watches the January 10th School Board meeting as well as the March 21st School Board meeting, “sympathy” about the elimination of APPLE has no basis and is actually insulting!

There are many people in this community who have had to put their child into private school as their learning style or learning difference could not be supported by this district.  Do they know families, who have private tutors for their students?  I bet the answer to both questions is a resounding, “YES.”  Do they know that there are people in this town, who don’t have the means to pay for private school or private tutors or whose kids would not accept either?   Do they know that there are some “average” people living in this town? There go the property values!

Scarsdale, Edgemont, Bronxville, Harrison, Rye, Chappaqua and Pleasantville, just to name a few Westchester County school districts, all have Alternative HS Programs & some are considered the best in the County–something that many house-hunters look for.

I urge everyone to vote down this budget which only serves ton benefit some at the expense of others.

 

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rational citizen
rational citizen
3 years ago

voting NO!!!
any larchmont resident that supports this fiasco deserves all the misery that comes their way!
mamaroneck wouldn’t exist without larchmont allowing themselves to be bled dry. wake up people. larchmont needs to be independent of mamaroneck and voting NO is the first step.

IE
IE
3 years ago

We are voting NO to the school budget. There are many reasons:
1) as a community member , everyone counts. I never had a child in the Apple program. But, we all pay taxes so our children can have the best education. The Apple has changed throughout the years , because of lack of knowledge and pushed to the sidelines. I have friends who have graduated from Apple over 30 years ago and are all professionals. Apple used to be a school within the school for kids who are smart, but need structure.
2) Dr Shaps forgot to mention he wants an increase of $18000, to his already top salary in the country. There are only 5% who make what he gets. That will give him a salary of $379,000.
3) all these years he didn’t have an assistant, why now? Is the job too hard?
4) the constant changing of the teachers, so he could keep the salaries down. If you have a good educator, keep them.
4) re-doing the gym doesn’t cost millions of dollars, who is the contractor?
5) he needs to listen to his staff and get their help to restructure classrooms.
He is saying he is re-designing the programs in school. There are lots of waste for example; we have open campus in high school. When a teacher calls in sick, the sub is not capable of teaching. Instead of wasting money on substitute teacher, save the $100 and give the kids the hour free. You are wasting money.

Melanie Kraut
Melanie Kraut
3 years ago
Reply to  IE

IE,
Every point you cite is severely lacking in facts and education.
To address the most glaring misinformation:
Dr Shaps’ salary IS NOT changing from last year. He makes $271,922, which is at the mid to low end of Supts in surrounding districts. He has always had Joanne Rice, who serves as our District Secretary. The increase to the Supt budget is going to salary increases in his office, supplies and a one time retention bonus of $20k for Dr Shaps, which is an earned bonus assigned by the BOE, justified because next year, by state law, we will be responsible for paying his health care – whether he is in our district or not. And he is doing an excellent job and we want to keep him here.

We DO keep good teachers. The tenure system and the teacher’s union make sure of it, and our district’s continued standard of excellence is a testament to it.

The funds being used to renovate the pathetically dilapidated and non functioning athletic spaces at the High School come from a BOND, that was approved by our comminity LAST YEAR. Those funds and that project have nothing to do with this budget.

For you to understand the whole APPLE conversation, you need to learn a lot more about the children that it serves and the resources it requires. It is not simply a place for kids who are smart and need more structure. It goes way beyond that to meeting the needs of the highest risk kids in our district. “Redesigning” the APPLE program was not a budget decision and VOTING DOWN THIS BUDGET WILL NOT BRING BACK APPLE.

Voting down this budget will simply decrease our per pupil spending in our district and cut programs, which is not a good thing for anyone.

The approval of his budget may actually mean YOUR TAXES GO DOWN, because the town’s tax base (for all three municipalities in our school district) is LOWER than it was last year. If your property assessment stays flat or goes down, you will acually pay less in taxes than you did last year.

Vote your mind, but make sure you know the facts. Terribly irresponsible otherwise.

Concerned Citizen
Concerned Citizen
3 years ago
Reply to  Melanie Kraut

teachers union = pond scum

that you would cast praise on the union as being aligned with the best interests of either the children or the taxpayers is ignorant and outrageous.

pathetic that this budget passed. it only shows even more that larchmont needs to secede from mamaroneck.

if anything you said true, the school district would not be the lowest ranked district in the county: bronxville, scarsdale, pelham, edgmont, chappaqua, rye, blind brook, irvington, hastings on hudson, briarcliff manor, etc. ALL are rated higher, even though they are similarly situates to larchmont in demographic.

the reasons? the drain that is mamaroneck, and the currish filth of the teachers union.

remove those two things, and larchmont has one of the best school districts in the county

JB
JB
3 years ago

My experience with the Mamaroneck public schools has been an unmitigated disaster, particularly at the middle school and high school level. The schools are probably great for kids who are self-motivated or who have special needs, but for the vast majority of kids in the middle, there is very little in the way of support, supervision or attention. The open campus structure at the high school is frankly insane — 14 year olds should not be allowed to roam the streets at will, entirely unsupervised. The fact that “frees” do not all happen at the same time, combined with the open campus, means that nobody knows whether a kid who is out of class is skipping class. Not to mention C-Wall. I don’t understand how C-Wall has been allowed to exist for all of these years. The result is that after years of paying for tutors to try to make up for the lack of support for my kids, not to mention many years of paying sky-high property taxes, all three of them had to move to private schools to get the support that they needed. Thankfully they are doing well now, but what about the many people in our district who don’t have the resources? I think it is well past time for the community to demand a serious re-thinking of the approach to education in our district.

rational citizen
rational citizen
3 years ago
Reply to  JB

agree 100%

tina
tina
3 years ago

Just curious , it appears there is no direct contact info for each individual school board member . There is one common email address to all and when I called about this awhile ago someone from administration (if I remember correctly Shaps office then directs it to the appropriate board member) What if someone wants to bring something confidential in nature directly to a board member ? Everyone else in the district including PTA volunteers has an direct email yet the BOE elected by the taxpayers does not . Why?

fed up
fed up
3 years ago
Reply to  tina

And it is nearly impossible to get a reply from them when you send to the Board e-mail. They completely ignore public comments and concerns, and suddenly become so attentive at refuting concerns when there is a school budget vote.

IE
IE
3 years ago
Reply to  fed up

You are absolutely correct, the board doesn’t get involved. They all have drank the coolaid that Dr Shaps has given them.

taxpayer & grandfather in Mamaroneck
taxpayer & grandfather in Mamaroneck
3 years ago

Hey Jon, sometimes it’s not about the numbers..it’s that “I know what’s best for you so don’t bother me with the personal stuff” attitude. Just creates a frustrating feeling among parents. Know what I mean??

Jonathan Sacks
Jonathan Sacks
3 years ago

Actually no, not sure what you mean…

As a member of the CFAC and active participant with the School Board, I do leave to the educators the job of educating. I can bring my personal expertise in finance and management to the table and add value, but I can’t challenge on the issues regarding the educational program.

What I think we as citizens have the right to do is to ask the questions, give input and be able to have a meaningful dialog, but in the end the administration with Board oversight needs to have control.

With 30,000 citizens in our community, we must look towards creating the best situation for the majority of students. This is not the best solution but all that we can afford, it can’t be squeaky wheel.

That being said there is usually a way in our district to find a special resource to meet a “Personal Need”. It’s been my experience with 3 children in the district that when personal attention is needed, I have been able to find the resources (perhaps sometimes with more work than I expected).

An effective school board weighs the needs of the public with the guidance/expertise of the administration and staff, they are not there to make every decision, but to hire the Superintendent and to approve policy. So yes sometimes they need to discount the “Personal Stuff”.

tina
tina
3 years ago

I am voting No . Why do we need so many assistant superintendents ? Also in my opinion Dr Shaps makes enough money . There is always money for this kind of stuff . I really disliked that situation with the Guatemalan student when the district was claiming that he had finished high school at 16 .Then trying to deny him an education. But money for superintendents raises and more assistant superintendents .

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