Mam’k School Budget Drops to $116.9M With 5.75% Tax Hike

Bond Issues Previewed

by Joan R. Simon

(March 27, 2008) At the Mamaroneck School Board's March 24th study session, Superintendent Paul Fried announced cuts of slightly over $4 million to his original proposed budget. The result will be a substantially reduced price tag of $116,924,29, which is 5.89% over last year's budget and produces a tax rate increase of 5.75%. (See: Prelim School Budget Would Hike Taxes 9.9%; Cuts To Come and also School Budget Trimmed $1.6M.)

While the initial budget proposal unveiled on March 4th would have hiked taxes at a greater rate than any superintendent's budget of the past five years, the one presented on March 24th comes with one of the smallest increases in recent years. (See: Budget Chart.)

Study Session - Tuesday, April 1, 7:30 pm
  • Discussion of timing and contents of bond.

  • Final public input on budget

  • Public information session on SEQRA regarding proposed capital and field projects

  • Planning for annual visits by board members to the schools

Location: MHS Library

The new savings were garnered by eliminating 5 additional special education teaching assistants (bringing the total to 10 positions cut) and trimming expenses from buildings and grounds, library software, technology, textbooks (which will be purchsed from this year’s budget rather than next year’s) and building allocations for the six district schools. Earlier cuts had targeted special education aides, high school teachers and transportation.

The most controversial item was the cut to the high school teaching staff. Concerned about class sizes, school board members asked the administration to restore two positions (with a third remaining as a contingency position), provided further cuts could be made elsewhere to keep the budget increase under 6%.

The board closely questioned Dr. Anthony Minotti, assistant superintendent for special education, on the additions and reductions to the special education program. Dr. Minotti supported his recommendations for cutting 17 teaching aides and 10 teaching assistants by “utilizing people differently within the buildings” and implementing “integrated co-teaching,” with two teachers in the classroom. He also expects $670K to be saved next year by using in-district programs for 12 students now placed out of district.

To enhance the special education program, the proposed budget includes additional support positions at the elementary and middle school levels, as well as a “transitional” guidance counselor, social worker, psychologist and two teachers at the high school.

On April 8th, the school board will adopt its final budget, which will be put before the community for a vote on May 20th.

Superintendent's *Proposed Budgets from 2003 through 2008
Budget Year
Proposed Budget
Budget Increase
Tax Rate Increase
$116,924,297
5.89%
5.75%
$112,156,735
7.97%
6.63%
2006-07
$103,922,940
7.91%
7.97%
2005-06
$95,952,000
7.22%
7.53%
2004-05
$89,484,000
9.44%
9.82%
2003-04
$81,739,000
8.12%
9.84%

*The final approved budget may be higher or lower than the proposed. Last year's revised budget, approved after the first was defeated, was for $110,415,652. That was a 6.3% budget increase and a 4.79% tax rate hike.
Bond Issues Previewed for April 1st Meeting

Before starting the budget review, the board heard updates on two issues relating to the capital projects and field development bonds they have been considering.

Meryl Rubinstein, assistant superintendent for operations, reported on boiler replacements at the Hommocks and Central. The board is considering holding a bond vote in the fall, rather than this spring, but would like to avoid an extra year of delay for the boiler project. Ms. Rubinstein confirmed that the district would be allowed to prepare plans before a vote is taken so requisite paperwork could be completed in time to begin work in the summer of 2009. However, she cautioned, there could be unexpected delays with the Department of Environmental Conservation and the necessary environmental (SEQRA) approvals.

Tom Spock, a parent who has worked extensively with the district on plans for renovating its fields, compared Plan C (redoing Memorial and Manchester Fields at the high school with turf and lights) with a modified Plan C (renovating only Memorial Field). The charts showed there would be much more “bang for the buck” with the full Plan C.

Both issues will be discussed at greater length at the April 1st board study session when the full contents, costs, and timing of the bond will be reviewed.