School Budget Would Hike Taxes by 9.84%
(March 5, 2003) Superintendent Sherry King provided the
first public glimpse of the preliminary budget for the Mamaroneck
at the School Board’s study session on March 4, 2003.
The Board will be going over the budget in detail over the
next few weeks (see schedule below), but Dr. King provided
a brief overview of the “bottom line.”
The proposed budget is for $81,739,000, which is an increase
of 8.12% over last year and will result in a 9.84% increase
in property taxes.
The administration is proposing some additions and some
cuts over last year’s budget. The additions include:
hiring some new staff to handle increased enrollments, to
provide high school level Earth Science for all middle school
students, and to reduce costly out-of-district placements
for some children with specialized needs. In addition there
will be some expansion of the CO-OP summer camp program,
and after-school programming for students needing extra help
at Chatsworth and Central schools.
To offset some of the increase, the Superintendent is recommending
raising the maximum class size for Kindergarten from 22 to
25, but not for the full-day program. Dr. King noted that
the lower number has been in effect for only a few years.
Also, under the system in place at three of the elementary
schools, classes are already small on most afternoons when
only half the class remains at school.
Other cuts are proposed in the per pupil allocation for
each school, in field trips, staff development and arts programs,
and in the elimination of funding for a professional coordinator
of the Understanding Handicaps Program. Additional savings
are expected with the retirement of 14 staff members
Commented Board President Bob Martin, “It’s
been a very difficult budget to put together,” He commended
Assistant Superintendent Sarah Tate for her work in preparing
the budget and called her a “wizard” for containing
the damages in this difficult year.
Earlier in the week, Tate explained some of the unsettling
aspects of this year’s budget process that stem from
the lack of firm numbers coming from New York State. “We
probably won’t know the exact figures until after the
budget vote in May,” she predicted. “That’s
been the case for the past number of years.”
However the degree of uncertainty is greater than ever this
year. For a presentation with PTA presidents on Monday, preliminary
budget books were unavailable because last minute updates
from the State required the district staff to make corrections
to several pages.
Tate noted, “The amount of state aid the district
will be receiving is not very clear. We don’t have
any numbers on building aid. The Governor has proposed some
In the face of uncertainty, the preliminary budget is based
on very conservative estimates of what the district might
receive in State aid. Said Tate, “I put in a number
that is the lowest we’ve ever received. The budget
estimates the district will receive $4.4 million, which is
a conservative, low estimate, but we may have to change this.”
There is additional uncertainty about a major expense item:
pensions. The district has been paying 1 or 2% of salary
towards the state retirement system. Last year, the district
was told they would have to up their contribution to 4% of
salary, but in the end there was no increase.
This year, the district was told their contribution was
going up to 7%. In the past few weeks, they’ve received
a new letter from State Comptroller Alan Hevesi predicting
the number will be 11 or 12%. “Whether or not it will
happen, who knows? We were in the middle of printing the
preliminary budget when we got word of a possible 11 or 12
The district contributes to two pension funds – one
for state employees and one for teachers. For the teachers’ fund,
the contribution is set to go up seven fold. It’s at
.36% of salary now, and it will go up to closer to 3%. Because
the district is not required to make payments until 2004,
this number may change again.
The district released the following announcement: "The Mamaroneck
Board of Education will be discussing next year’s budget
at the following meetings. The community is invited to all
are held in
the Post Road
Conference Center of Mamaroneck High School."
Superintendent presents budget.
Regular board meeting; Public input welcome.
Budget study session; Public input welcome.
9 – 10am Financial Section, Program Highlights.
10 – 11am Special Education, Health Benefits.
11 – noon Capital Component, Debt Service, Forward-Backward Look.
Budget study session; Public input welcome.
Budget study session.
Regular board meeting; Board votes on budget.