Local schools, municipalities, hospitals and political leaders are just learning of potential damage headed their way from $3B in mid-year cuts proposed last week by Governor David A. Paterson to close a widening budget gap. If adopted as is – no sure bet – the measure would cut $481,103 from the Mamaroneck School’s funding for the current year.
At the Tuesday, October 20 meeting of the Mamaroneck School Board, Superintendent Dr. Paul Fried referred to the governor’s proposal as an “early wake- up call” that things aren’t going to get any better next year.
In happier news, the board noted the naming of 125 MHS students as AP Scholars by the College Board in recognition of their achievement on Advanced Placement exams. This included 10 students with grades of 4 or higher on eight or more AP tests. (See the full list of below.)
More from the school board meeting . . .
Stimulus Funds: A committee of administrators, teachers and parents recommended that some federal stimulus funds be used to enhance co-teaching at the elementary schools ($33K) and to bring co-teaching to the Hommocks ($50K).
Solar Panels: The board completed its environmental review and will seek approval from the State Education Department for installation of solar panels at the Hommocks. Funded by a Mamaroneck Schools Foundation grant, the panels are more for education than for energy production.
Superintendent Search: Debbie Raizes and Bruce Dennis, senior associates of the search firm Hazard, Young and Attea, were introduced to the community. Mr. Dennis said the number of candidates for superintendent positions has decreased in recent years: “It’s gone from a buyers’ market to a sellers’ market.” The consultants will compile responses from questionnaires, several dozen focus groups and two open community forums. They will present the resulting report at a board meeting in December.
Auditors Report: The independent auditors have issued an unqualified or “clean” opinion of the district’s financial statements.
Board Praise: In honor of school board recognition week, members of the Mamaroneck School Board were praised by local officials and PT Council, serenaded by the MHS Swing Choir and celebrated as “people that think really, really hard” in a video depicting elementary students’ impressions of the board.
State Aid Cuts Likely
In an earlier e-mail on the topic, Dr. Fried wrote, “Though it’s just a proposal at this point, we are certainly disappointed and concerned.” He referred to the hard work of last year’s budget process, including “monetary concessions from our teachers and administrators, having our Central Office team take a pay freeze and still being forced to reduce more than 20 positions and increase class size.” He added that “having an unexpected mid-year budget cut undermines the good work and planning that we did to bring a budget before the community that they could support.”
Dr. Fried said he was already in conversations with New York State Assemblyman George Latimer and Senator Suzi Oppenheimer.
Asked for comment, Assemblyman Latimer said, “We’re just at the very beginning of assessing the budget cuts.” He did not expect the local municipalities to suffer much. The Town of Mamaroneck, with a fiscal year ending in December, has probably received most of its aid already. Larchmont Village was only allocated a relatively small percentage of its budget, $74,000.
“My biggest gripes will be with education and health care cuts,” he said.
Mr. Latimer noted the complicated political context. “There are many factors other than budgetary,” he suggested, naming the recent misdemeanor conviction of New York Senator Hiram Monserrate, whose resignation or removal would once again tip the Senate into an ungovernable 30-30 draw between Democrats and Republicans. (Senator Oppenheimer has called for Mr. Monserrate to resign.)
As for alternative budget ideas, “for openers,” Mr. Latimer said he would prefer to see savings achieved by deferring until next year a portion of spending on capital projects and on “member items” (AKA as “pork”).
Senator Suzi Oppenheimer agreed with Mr. Latimer that “it’s very early in the process.” The Senate is holding a series of hearings next week on the governor’s proposals. Senator Oppenheimer will co-chair one specifically dealing with impacts on municipalities and education.
“We will try to explore every possible alternative to make up the deficit without having to cut education,” said the senator. But she warned that “we all may have to do our part, including, potentially cutting our own salaries and legislative budgets.”
At Mamaroneck High School ten students qualified for the National AP Scholar Award by earning an average grade of 4 or higher on all AP Exams taken, and grades of 4 or higher on eight or more of these exams. These students are:
Sixty-six students qualified for the AP Scholar with Distinction Award by receiving an average grade of 3.5 on all AP exams taken, and grades of 3 or higher on five or more of these exams. These students are:
Twenty-five students qualified for the AP Scholar with Honor Award by earning an average grade of at least 3.25 on all AP exams taken, and grades of 3 or higher on four or
Thirty-four students qualified for the AP Scholar Award by completing three or more AP examinations, with grades of 3 or higher. The AP scholars are: