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.