Mam’k Schools Ask for Help Fighting Cuts

The Mamaroneck School District is asking parents to voice opposition to Governor Patterson’s proposed mid-year cuts to schools. 



 These proposed cuts in State Aid total approximately $480,000.


Below are letters from the District to parents and from the School Board to Assemblyman George Latimer:

October 30, 2009
Dear Parents:
I want to share a letter sent today from our Board of Education to Assemblyman George Latimer (below) and Senator Suzi Oppenheimer in light of Governor Paterson’s recent proposal to implement drastic mid-year budget cuts in statewide school aid – a plan that would take away a half-million dollars from the Mamaroneck School District budget this year.  The letter is attached for your reference.
As you can see, we’ve asked our legislators to do what they can to help ensure that these devastating cuts do not happen.  Cutting a half-million dollars from our current budget would have a harmful impact on the programs we offer your children.  The 2009-2010 budget was painstakingly dwindled down to what we knew our community could afford.  Any further cuts now, two months into the school year, would be difficult to manage and cause significant disruption in many areas.
As it is, we’ve been concerned about the planning for next year’s budget.  With so many State-mandated and contractual costs, this coming budget season will undoubtedly be the most challenging ever.  We urge you to stay on top of legislative issues that affect public education, and even more specifically, your children, and help join the battle to maintain our state aid by contacting our legislators directly.  If everybody plays a role, we hopefully can make a difference.  
CONTACT:     Suzi Oppenheimer  (518) 455-2031    

                        George Latimer  (518) 455-4897               
The New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA)’s website is a good source for information on updated legislative developments; just go on and select Advocacy and Legislation; then go to Advocacy Alert and Legislation Action Center.  Additionally, in the next several days, we will add a Legislative Action/Issues section to our own website to provide you with important information.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Dr. Paul R. Fried 
Superintendent of Schools


1000 W. Boston Post Road · Tel  914 220-3007
Mamaroneck, NY 10543· Fax  914 220-3010
 October 30, 2009
Assemblyman George Latimer
Legislative Office Building 820
Albany, NY 12248
Dear Assemblyman Latimer: 
Two weeks ago, Governor Paterson unveiled a proposal that calls for a $686 million mid-year cut in statewide school aid.  The proposal would have a staggering fiscal impact on the Lower Hudson region, including Mamaroneck Schools, which would be forced to cut $481,103 from the current budget we labored over and reduced so significantly last spring. 
As we believe you know from our previous conversations, our 2009-10 budget is extraordinarily tight.  After making considerable reductions to every non-instructional area of our budget, we were still forced to eliminate 34 positions, including 17 teaching positions and a key assistant superintendent position, in order to keep the budget increase to a level that our already overburdened community could support – a 3.23% budget-to-budget increase.  While we tried our best to preserve programs, in the end, class sizes across the district were raised, and reductions impacted instructional technology, classroom supplies, professional development, athletics, music, extracurricular activities, class trips and much more. 
There is no more room to cut without reducing programming further.  Without question, mid-year state aid reductions will further hurt our students.
School districts like ours have only one primary source of funding – property taxes – and we are legally unable to raise additional funds at the last minute.  We need to be able to plan for both revenue receipts and expenses in an orderly manner.
Besides the mandated and contractual costs that comprise over 90% of our budget, another item that is outside our control and unpredictable – tax certioraris – continues to plague our district.  In 2008-09, we paid $1.8MM in tax certioraris (far more than we had budgeted) and were forced to reduce expenses in order to cover the cost.  This situation is likely to reoccur. It impacts us in two ways:  it is an expense we are legally required to cover, and it reduces assessed valuation, increasing the burden on each property taxpayer, in our case, primarily homeowners.
At the same time that we face these unpredictable costs, school districts are allowed to have only limited reserves for emergency purposes such as unexpected tax certiorari payments and emergency capital work (many of our 1,000,000+ square feet of buildings are over 100 years old), and it is critical that these reserves be available for such emergencies.   If we were to deplete our reserves, our credit rating would decline, thereby increasing school district borrowing costs and raising local taxes.  And, without reserves, when faced with emergencies (which inevitably occur each year), we would have to take on high-cost, short-term debt.
Further, we anticipate 2009-10 to be a far more challenging budget year than last year, with the state mandated pensions alone potentially causing a 3+ % budget-to-budget increase.  (An average 60% increase in ERS has already been announced and a similar increase is expected for TRS, which we estimate could cost Larchmont-Mamaroneck taxpayers an additional $3-3.5MM.)  This is in addition to contractual salary and benefit increases which will be well in excess of current inflation.  Current reserves will also most likely be needed to reduce the impact of mandated and contractual increases in the 2010-2011 budget.
We view the Governor’s Deficit Reduction Plan as a short-term fix that will create long-term problems for so many districts, and Mamaroneck is no exception.  Any solution to the State’s financial woes must thoughtfully consider the legal and fiscal constraints that our schools are forced to operate under, and our limited ability to make fiscal adjustments – particularly midyear.  We simply cannot solve this fiscal mess at the expense of our children.  We hope you will join us in this battle to maintain our state aid!
Mamaroneck Board of Education
Linnet Tse, President
Rick Marsico, Vice President
Harriet Barish
Janet Buchbinder
Anant Nambiar
Robin Nichinsky   
Nancy Pierson




  1. Here for a sobering assessment of the district (check in the “underachiever” category for West/LI) . I can read in the Board letter the very solutions to their predicament : 1mio sq ft of buildings ? well, mothball 25% of it and save on janitors, cleaning and heating. Contractual increases ? Terminate the contract or renegotiate it. Unbudgeted tax certiorari ? Budget more as anybody can see where the assessments are going, and adapt expenses accordingly. State mandated pensions ? Put pressure on legislators to create new pension tiers, or change the State constitution. Fiscal mess ? D* right, we simply cannot solve this fiscal mess at the expense of our children. Nor at our further expense btw.

  2. [quote][i]In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards.[/i] – Mark Twain[/quote]

    With all due respect for the efforts of our School Board, ‘GODISTRICT’ is correct. The Three Card Monty game and Ponzi scheme must end. The money from the State comes from the same tax pockets as the school district tax; the latter already gobbles-up way too large a percentage of the total real estate taxes. Shuffling the cards among different taxes doesn’t change the cost or the impact. Increasingly burdening the residents including the students with government debt for the future is unsustainable.

    The search for the next school superintendent, with an expectation that an excellent candidate cannot be found more simply and at a much lower cost than the than one-quarter million dollars plus annually, plus benefits, plus pension costs, is another example that reality is not yet being confronted.

    As a community we need to LEARN how to provide better education within the constraints of our new economy. We should have learned it sooner. Now we must learn from our mistakes.

    As a community we need to LEARN how to provide better education within the constraints of our new economy. We must do more with less. Now that is the only acceptable choice.

    [quote][i]Bureaucracy defends the status quo long past the time when the quo has lost its status.[/i] – Laurence J. Peter[/quote]

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