RYE NECK, N.Y. Rye Neck School Superintendent Peter Mustich fielded questions from concerned parents about cuts to programs and staff in the proposed 2012-13 budget in a meeting Wednesday night in the high school library.
This year, the district was $200,000 over the allowable tax levy limit of $707,645. To comply with the 2 percent cap, the district examined it nonmandated programs and staff and found $677,798 in total savings. In addition to $420,551 in cuts to programs and services including the exploratory fifth-grade Latin program the district cut 6.8 staff positions, including:
0.5 music teachers, saving $88,355;
0.1 math teachers, saving $33,047;
six kindergarten teaching assistants, saving $176,556; and
two foreign language teachers, saving $19,289, as a result of removing the exploratory Latin program.
To maintain current class sizes, the district hired a fourth-grade teacher for $60,000 per year. This brings the net staff reductions for 2012-13 to $257,247 in savings. The $420,551 in nonpersonnel savings were made in cuts to computer services, refunding bonds to lower the debt service, materials and supplies, and transportation.
After Mustich's budget overview, one parent asked why the kindergarten assistants were cut. Mustich said they are the only teaching assistants not mandated by New York State because kindergarten isn't a mandated program. Despite the cuts, the kindergarten program will still be full day.
Suzanne Chamberlain, a mother of a first-grader and a 2-year-old, asked why the district didn't try to override the tax levy cap instead of cutting programs and staff.
"The risk was too great," Mustich said. He explained further that if the board had chosen to override the tax levy cap, it would have had to pass with a supermajority, or 60 percent, of voters. If it failed to pass, a second vote would have taken place in June, when there is generally less parent participation, he said. If the budget didn't pass again, the tax levy would revert to last year's level, forcing the district to make additional cuts of $707,645.
Residents in the Rye Neck School District can determine their 2012-13 school taxes by plugging their home's assessed value into a calculator on the district website .
The board will adopt the budget at its April 18 meeting, then hold its final budget hearing May 2. The public will vote on it May 15 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the middle/high school library.
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