Gazette Ceases Publication: Donates Archives to LHS

In 2010, the Larchmont Gazette ceased publication. In 2011 the publishers donated all contents to the Larchmont Historical Society, which will continue to make the Gazette archives available online.

All inquiries should be addressed to the Larchmont Historical Society.

50 comments - (Comments closed)

Schools Plead for Input in Face of Crisis: Budget Session Nov 30

“Our schools are facing a financial crisis,” proclaims the November 16 email flyer from the Mamaroneck School District urging the community to attend a “very important meeting” about “budgeting during tough financial times” at 7:30 in the Hommocks Library on Monday, November 30.   It concludes by encouraging “if you’ve never attended a District meeting before, make this your first.”

What prompted the scheduling of this special meeting on the heels of the Thanksgiving break?  We asked Superintendent Dr. Paul Fried and School Board President Linnet Tse to help us understand the thinking behind the meeting and why the community should attend.  Here’s what we learned.

If there is no change in what the district offers – no new programs, no reductions in class size, nothing new – what percentage tax increase can the community expect?

It’s too early to say, said Dr. Fried, who was uncomfortable providing even a ballpark range at this time because the district is still getting information about set costs.   But he expects that “a rollover budget would be unacceptable to the community” because it would increase taxes too much.

What are the “unprecedented challenges” mentioned in the announcement?

At the top of the short list are state-mandated pension contributions, explained Dr. Fried.  These contributions must be made at a level that will support defined benefits.

Early estimates from the state project a 60% increase in pension contributions for school civil service employees and around a 45% increase in pension contributions for teachers.  Together, these increases will likely cost the district close to $4 million, noted Ms. Tse, resulting all by themselves in a tax increase of over 3%.

Contractual salary increases for all five bargaining units are also driving things up, said Dr. Fried.  The teachers contract, negotiated during better financial times, provides for a 3.8% raise to scheduled salaries.  In addition, the contract requires additional salary increases for education and experience.  The contract has one year left to run.

Other big-ticket items include debt servicing and health insurance increases.

Debt is projected to go up approximately $1 million to finance the $22.1 million bond that was passed last year to make critical roof repairs and replace 40-year old boilers, HVAC systems and windows, explained Ms. Tse.

The district purchases health insurance on a calendar-year basis so the increases won’t be determined until December, Dr. Fried pointed out.   The district has no control of health insurance costs in the short term, he explained, but if the numbers are out of line with other districts in the long term, it might be worth exploring the possibility of renegotiating.

How do we put this in context?   How worried should the community be?

Last year’s economic circumstances resulted in “exceptional steps” to cut non-instructional costs, Dr. Fried recalled, and led to abolishing 34 positions (including 17 teaching positions) and raising elementary class size by an average of two students.  “This year,” he continued, “we are facing a similar, if not worse, dilemma or crisis.  After the cutting that took place last year, I am deeply worried about what this will mean when we look to try to decrease the escalation of spending so that the community can afford to support the budget.”

Electives, athletics and the arts will all “come under question,” Dr. Fried said.

What kind of initiatives would make a difference?  If the district can’t cut state-mandated expenses, won’t that mean cutting teachers?

It’s too soon to talk about specific initiatives, insisted Dr. Fried, who explained that he will not be sharing figures for possible cuts with the community before presenting a preliminary budget to the board of education.   He acknowledged, however, that the more significant the proposed cuts, the greater the likely impact on staffing.

The question, asked Dr. Fried, is: “What are people willing to live with in their school system?”  The district will do everything possible to “scrub the budget,” first looking to non-instructional expenses.  It will then be necessary to look at what it means to have a 0% increase or a 3% increase, for example, and the cuts that will be necessary to achieve those levels.

How will the November 30 meeting help the district with budget planning?

The meeting “is not a Budget 101” session, Dr. Fried emphasized, but the first half hour will be a presentation so that the community can understand why the district is in a financial crisis.

Once people understand the magnitude of the issues, Dr. Fried and school board members will be interested in hearing questions from community members.  Perhaps even more importantly, they will be hoping to hear how people weigh in on their priorities.  What do people think should be cut first, and what should be preserved?

In the end, the school board will have to determine where the community stands on preserving the things that have made Mamaroneck unique, Dr. Fried noted, and “what we are prepared to sacrifice to preserve class size.”  He cautioned, however, that “there are no magic bullets or tricks” to fix the situation.


PrintFriendlyTwitterGoogle GmailYahoo MailShare

Related Articles:

50 comments to Schools Seek Feedback in Face of Crisis: Nov 30

  • larchmontlifer

    I fully respect the work that my children’s teachers and school administrators do, but I also respect the work of many friends, neighbors and family members. But the reality is that my friends, neighbors and family members are not in jobs that automatically get 3.8% raises, no matter what. Many companies in fact over the last decade, have had raise freezes. In our case, that lasted 5 years.

    Let that teacher contract expire and never again agree to a “scheduled” raise. When the district is in better shape, then perhaps merit raises might be warranted, but certainly not guaranteed.

    Additionally, health insurance premiums are paid by most employees at a much higher rate than is expected of our school district staff. My spouse’s contribution to our family health plan has risen about 25% over the last few years. We now pay 75% of those premiums. It’s just the way it is. You deal with it.

    Our reality is that the district needs to gain control over these benefits/perks. If the district can’t afford raises for a few years, so be it. I don’t think staffers will run away from the stability of a job, thinking they will find something better. If staff contributions to their health care need to be increased from the jaw dropping low rate that they pay now, then so be it. They will pay it because they will want their health care.

    With all due respect, tough times call for tough but realistic decisions.

    • LarchmontShortTimer

      Well Stated Larchmontlifer. I have not seen a raise in two years, this will probably be three.
      The way I see it, all we get for the small fortune in school taxes we pay each year is Excellent Teachers.
      We already pay for everything else the school needs.(Paper Products, wipes,school supplies, art supplies, after school indoor activity supplies)
      All we get are emails asking for money or to volunteer for a fund raisers.
      Remember not only our schools are facing a financial crisis, OUR FAMILIES are facing a financial crisis. Well at least mine is.
      I don’t know how they can spend less at Central school, it looks like the bare minimum to me. In other words, Where does all the money go????

  • budgetarious

    Electives, athletics and the arts will all “come under question,” Dr. Fried said. And not too soon. Let the janitorial, nursing, psychological load come under question too. And the 1 million square foot of real estate. And the 260k salary of the superintendent, before perks. And the non-contributory pensions of staff after 10 years of presence.


    Agreed. Our school budget is hemorrhaging. I was just at a LarchmontMamaroneckLinked Professional Networking group, where many of our neighbors have lost their jobs. We have to get realistic and cut costs wherever we can.

    I suggest that the LarchmontGazette obtain under The Freedom of Information Act and publish the list of all Mamaroneck District personnel including teachers by name and salary. Let’s evaluate what we are looking at. I recall many years ago, it was posted in the newspapers and we were shocked to find out how much we actually pay our teachers$$$$$. Let’s be informed in order to make a decision.

    When my son went to public school in NYC, the PTA raised funds for the extra curricular activities. We didn’t have afterschool groups that the district paid for. It was the “parents” who covered the costs.

    As suggested, the next Superintendent’s salary should be cut by $100,000 as well as decreasing benefits. In order to save jobs, companies are asking all employees to take a pay cut to help their co-workers. Perhaps, as a show of good will Dr. Fried should set the example and reduce his salary to show people how dire the circumstances are.

    Americans are resilient, and we can show our children how we can do with less. If necessary, let the Teacher’s contract run out. I am tired of having the Teacher’s Union dictate or threaten us.

      • PSEUD ONYM

        Thanks Virtual Mayor for your link. If people are interested in reading about our School District’s Contract with the Union, please look into my printed link. Page 42 starts to discuss our Salary Contract with teachers.
        Defusing New York’s Pension Bomb
        By E.J. McMahon, Director, Empire Center for New York State Policy Director, Empire Center for New York State Policy Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research
        Complete report in PDF format
        June 07, 2006

        Apparently, our district and other districts have known for a long time what is about to happen. They want us to attend a meeting to help them figure out what to do??? I thought that is up to the highly salaried Superintendent who earns $260,000 plus benefits to figure out. Am I missing something???? Timothy Geithner earns less and has a lot more to clean on his plate.

        “Geithner, confirmed by the Senate yesterday, earned $411,200 in 2008 and the first two weeks this year as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. As the country’s 75th Treasury secretary, Geithner makes an annual salary of $191,300, the Treasury’s Web site says.”

        Geithner isn’t calling us to come in and help him!! :-(

        • Catherine Ryan

          So the school board, which had its budget voted down last year, should not seek detailed input from the community that will vote on it?

          • Anon E Mous

            CPI-U Un-adjusted 12-mos. ended Oct. 2009 = -.2 … Acceptable school tax increase = 0.

            Now we should see the school district’s numbers.

            It’s too soon to talk about specific initiatives, insisted Dr. Fried, who explained that he will not be sharing figures for possible cuts with the community before presenting a preliminary budget to the board of education. – LG

            Now that’s so simple, even a child could understand it.

            - A.E.M.

  • No one likes to mention controlling expenditures for education, but in tough fiscal times, strong leadership is needed. Has there ever been a time in the last twenty years when the education budget was just frozen? It has not. So we should try to hold firm on not making serious cutbacks but in freezing all costs. Everyone should feel compelled to realize that it is time for a freeze on wages. The overall macro economy will not be expanding in the next two years to warrant increases in public sector financing. Is there any way for all involved in education to accept a freeze in wages for the next three years. Or if that is not possible lets do this in a more progressive manner, where individuals with incomes lower then $ 50,000 in salaries receive a 2% increase, individuals with salaries above $ 50,000 to $ 100,000 have their salaries frozen, and individuals above $ 100,000 reduce their salaries by 5% to 10%. If labor costs are brought under control, taxes will be brought under control in a depreciating real estate market. It is hard to believe that education leaders can’t keep costs frozen in recessions.

  • Anon E Mous

    It’s so simple, even a child could understand it.

    Houses were the cash machines, the banks grew bigger every year from which the school board made ever increasing withdrawals. Bonds were the credit cards, providing for ever increasing borrowing from what would be the the future growth in the cash machines So we had a game like Bernie liked to play. But something happened along the way. Like sub-prime, things didn’t work out the way they were planned. The money in the cash machines ran out. The issuers canceled the credit cards. The emperor had no clothes. And there is no rabbit to pull from the hat.

    It’s so simple, even a child could understand it.

    We can’t spend money that we don’t have. That’s what children used to be taught. Okay, Federal government is the exception that proves the rule, but we’re not the Federal government. Our school officials now must acknowledge reality. There simply is no choice. Yes, contracts can be renegotiated. Yes, mandates are those that we created and we must control their future costs by reducing expenditures now. And, it is just the great teachers, not quantity, not class size, not facilities, that with the students, make the important difference in an education. Yes, we all have some learning to do.

    It’s so simple, even a child could understand it. It just takes some leaders a little longer to realize that they can’t just keep raising taxes when the money has run out.

    There is never a time to stop teaching our children, including recessionary times, said Senator Oppenheimer. But given our deepening fiscal crisis and the enormous strain on taxpayers throughout the state, we must redouble our efforts to save taxpayer dollars and cut school costs wherever possible.

    It’s so simple, even a child could understand it.


    I am thrilled you are our Virtual Mayor! :-) You write in such a way that “is so simple…that even a child can understand it!” ;-) Things change…and we have to adapt.

  • Anon E Mous

    I am thrilled to hear all these voices talking while the harmony of the chorus virtually masks individuals each is identifiably unique :-)

    Yes, Ralph, as they’ve not done it during the last twenty years, it is unfortunately perfectly believable that they can’t do it now. The inability to see the future effects of ‘good times’ budgets, contributes to the current situation and their inability to make the tough choices is all too obvious. We can’t allow it to continue.

    Less obvious is why the Superintendent of our small school district is paid more than the Chancellor of the NYC school system. Perhaps we all need an education so that we put that to an end. Probably not something taught in our schools though :-)

    Let’s consider another bubble in this time of bubbles bursting. What is it that is so ‘unique’–in the word of the e-mail flyer–that we must reinvent curriculum, reinvent education. How much waste can we eliminate if we consolidate and recycle? The unique Mamaroneck School District includes the two Villages and a Town, each of which have their unique Fire district and unique Police district, but the shared school district is uniquely different from all others? Do our leaders know R.O.I. or is it anonymous?

    As Ellen DeGeneres said, The only thing that scares me more than space aliens is the idea that there aren’t any space aliens. We can’t be the best that creation has to offer. I pray we’re not all there is. If so, we’re in big trouble.

    Why are our leaders just now asking about our priorities? Did they not understand them when they came into their positions or in the time since? And why aren’t our school district priorities really simple? As simple as schools providing education, without bankrupting the present or the future. Seems, it’s so simple, even a child could understand it.

    But as Margaret Mead said, My grandmother wanted me to have an education, so she kept me out of school. Now that’s so simple, even a child could understand it.

    - A.E.M.

  • talkischeap

    Here are a few ideas to feed the debate, beyond the obvious tearing off the teachers` contract because of extenuating circumstances, lowering all salaries over 100k (count them…) by 10pc, suppressing half of the principals positions and asking our well-paid principals to oversee two schools each, shutting down the tv studio and the T-shirt printing facilities : review each and every special ed student so that the 50pc who are special because they need ESL classes get them instead of speech therapy, ask the 57 janitors for a detailed description of what exactly they do all day and do same for every admin qnd non-teaching staff, take down all AP classes that are not fully paid for by parents, same for bilingual electives like string classes in spanish, focus on education and not social promotion. Look beyond one year, and beyond NYS : Calif and Illinois are telling us that the pension costs are not going to go down. And shout loudly, voters.

  • Lean, Green Operating Machine

    The 57 Janitors should be accountable for what they do all day. It’s positions like those that need to be closely monitored too. The schools are not that clean so they don’t require 57 Janitors for 6 schools. That is more than 9 janitors per school??? Ridiculous!!!

    In NYC there are office buildings that are far bigger on a square foot basis and require far more cleaning than elementary or high schools do, believe it or not, and they have 4 – 6 cleaning people per building.

    I’m not suggesting any Janitors lose their jobs. I am suggesting that the hiring freezes translate over to them so that no more are hired and this way, they can scale back the crew over time. Those on staff should be grandfathered in, if they are doing a good job. That is an IF of course because no one really seems to know.

    Also, switching to Eco-Friendly, environmental products could earn points in Carbon Offsets, has ANY ONE In the school district looked into GREENING the SCHOOLS for more funding??

    Check out Recycle Bank and see what can be salvaged to earn $$$ for the schools. Teaching kids to be Environmentally Friendly, while they are in school will allow them to participate from an early on age, in saving their planet.

    If the financial well has dried up, perhaps it’s still not too late to save the planet.

    Mantra for the 21st Century: “Go Green, Young Man, Young Girl”

    • CUSTODIAN'S wife

      First, the proper term is custodian not janitor (which is both antiquated and offensive) and second, the schools are currently transitioning to the use of green cleaning products. I am not sure, based on your post, if you understand what is involved in RUNNING and cleaning facilities as large as our buildings have become.

      • PSEUD ONYM

        > janitor
        a person who looks after a building, doing routine maintenance, etc.

        > custodian
        one who has the care of anything; a keeper; a caretaker.

        I just looked up the definition of “janitor” which you find offensive. It doesn’t seem to have “negative connotations” in the online dictionary.

        All jobs are valuable and necessary whether you call it janitorial or custodian. The question is “how many people” we need that was being questioned. I don’t think anyone meant to offend by the title used.

        • CUSTODIAN'S wife

          Just because a word can be found in the dictionary does not make it appropriate to use. According to the CSEA and their contract, the position is custodian. As far as how many positions are needed, I think you should be more concerned about how many “educational coaches”, administrators, and consultants are on the payroll!

          • PSEUD ONYM

            The only reason I looked up the words, is because you said that using “janitor” is offensive. To me, neither word is offensive.

            If his contract says “Custodian” then that is what he is. Language may change over time. We used to call people “secretaries” and now they are called “administrative assistants.” I don’t think anyone was trying to offend your husband or the Custodian staff.

            We all agree with you that we have too many “educational coaches, administrators, and consultants on our payroll.” The School Board should be urging for eliminating all of the “hocus/pocus Teacher Coaches” for sure.


    Copy of Teachers Contract

    I urge those who plan to attend the November 30th meeting, to please browse the Teachers Contract so that you are informed residents and tax payers.

    Perhaps we should cut out the financial incentives for the title of Department Chairperson which costs us over $10,000 for each Chair.

    I would suggest that teachers should pay 25% percent of their health premium costs, instead of their current 6% percent contribution. Their contract should be brought into line with those fortunate enough to have corporate jobs.

  • Rebel

    There are 44 custodians in the 6 schools that we have. PLEASE know all your facts before writing on this site. ALL schools are at there bare minimum for custodial staffing now. Should look into why the buildings are open 7 days a week day and night for nonsense.

  • According to the reference above (budget 09-10 on the District website), 44 custodians and 13 maintenance workers. 11 nurses and 10 psychologists. 71 clerks in addition to 23 administrative.

    All on State jobs. Surely custody, maintenance, nursing, psychology, clerical can be a. reduced and b. outsourced to the private sector ?

    • Head Case

      10 Shrinks in the school district today? Not when I was there. I think there were maybe 6 in total; one for every school.

      Wow – to think I’ve got to pay $375.00/hour to get a shrink to listen to me today when it was free to tax payers back in school. It’s true, kids never know how good they got it.

      • Anon E Mous

        We need a person to SHRINK the budget, CLEAN-UP the District’s financial situation, protect our GREEN (money and environment) and make sure our SCHOOLS educate students.

        Whatever the title, such is the required LEADER we lack.

        It’s so simple, even a child could understand it.

        As Dave Barry said in ‘Things That It Took Me 50 Years to Learn’, When trouble arises and things look bad, there is always one individual who perceives a solution and is willing to take command. Very often, that person is crazy.

  • Clearly a new financial plan is needed. It seems that to ask for the private sector to takeover is more of an extreme request. However it is definitely possible to freeze costs through attrition and for a budgetary reduction of 2% to 3%. Most homeowners support the education system, but want their taxes frozen if not reduced . So it is time in the educational community to make a list of possible minor reductions in variable costs so that a plan is enacted. The fiscal assumption should be made that no additional requests for increases in real estate taxes should be made for the next three years. Given that the majority of homeowners want tax relief, freezing taxes will at least calm their worry down, and let them plan to meet their bills in the future. THe challenge remains for the education leaders to control costs over the next three years by freezing existing budgets. Yes a 2% to 3% cut back will have to happen, but that is not a big request.

  • Frug Al

    In the light of mounting costs over which we apparently have no control (pensions) and given such aberrations as a 3.8 per cent increase in pay when everybody else’s pay seems to be frozen (social security as well), minimal rate of contributions to health insurance premiums and the Superintendent pay, the time has come to re-think the whole approach. We should outsource custody, maintenance etc., have new contractual arrangements for future employees for pensions, benefit, etc – not linked to the State. In the meantime, the overall budget should be frozen i.e. no increase in taxes.

  • Rodman Reef

    The issue is about revenue as well as about expenses. There already have been many comments about expenses. The District has assets such as auditoriums, classrooms, athletic fields, high school alumni, etc. that can be a new or expanded source of revenue. School facilities can be rented to corporations for meetings, high school alumni can be organized and asked for donations (my NYC public high school has done this with reasonable success), school facilities can be rented to community colleges as is done by other school districts, etc. This topic was addressed by several people including myself during the last budget process. We should ask for a progress report at the November 30th meeting and, if there has been limited progress, we should ask for the effort to be increased and the results addressed when the next budget is presented. We need to reduce the District’s dependence on both property taxes and state subsidies.

    In addition, the district needs to due some serious long range financial planning and implement the plans. The Finance Committee, staffed with local volunteers, that Dr. Fried announced early in his tenure, needs to be re-energized and report publically on its activities and participate and drive a long range financial plan. One goal of the plan should be to reduce the ever increasing property tax burden on residential home owners.

    The District has control over many variables, some short-term and some long-term. We are not helpless. We need to take the action necessary, without just pointing fingers at other levels of government, to keep our villages and our town a viable place to live.

    I hope these comments help the discussion.


      Well said. I hope that the District’s Finance Committee will be presenting on the 30th. There seems to be a similar thread in our comments…and that is “no more tax increases..and make due with what our existing budget.” There have been some very creative and solid suggestions made.

  • Anon E Mous


    Do they want to hear us or are they looking for our sympathy and more money. Seems that we’ve clearly and loudly explained THEIR options and OUR choices. We can tell them again when we vote.

    As Steve Forbes said, The politicians say ‘we’ can’t afford a tax cut. Maybe we can’t afford the politicians.

  • Eleanor

    Calculators are not mentioned in the online Technology District Plan…only use of computers.

    Technology Plans for District should include use and instruction in all kinds of technology.

    Is that the reason how children have not been using higher level calculators that are allowed on SAT’s?

  • Bemused

    Start with a blank piece of paper and decide what is the minimum school system we want and need. From there look for the most effective way to deliver it and bench what we have against that. Initially you won’t save but over time you will.

    On the immediate cost side a freeze/temporary cut seems reasonable compared to to what many residents have experienced. It is not fair to demonize the teachers and staff but it is time to recognize that salaries combined with benefits have become very attractive compared to private sector levels. Over time a switch to higher health insurance contributions and defined contribution pension (at 65) will slow cost increases and bring salaries more in line with the private sector.

    Outsourcing is not an instant panacea and can be more expensive initially but it does provide benefits over time (e.g. low materials costs) and would be better if we shared with more school districts. On that point it is time that police and fire services are pooled among more communities to get better capacity utilization and logical salary structures (just how many fire and police chiefs do we need?).

    Finally a serious tax overhaul is needed so that there is consistency and fairness in assessment and everyone pays, even if all that means is that renters would pay part of their rent as tax instead of rent; you cannot have a sensible debate unless all the users fell they are paying for the service.

  • concernededucator

    Well maybe rather than dipping into our pockets once again or increasing class sizes again, they should look into positions in this district that actually do ABSOLUTELY nothing! You wouldn’t. Believe how useless the coaches are to the teachers. And they have a co teaching program that has not just one teacher in the classroom but two full time teachers. They also meet with an outside consultant twice a month. How much is that costing the district?? I find it insulting that the first thing people complain about is the teaching salaries when this district basically throws money away on needless programs and positions and doesn’t support what really needs the support- smaller class sizes, student achievement, and quality teachers.


      I don’t think that most of us are unnecessarily complaining about teachers salaries. I am not sure what you are referring to about “coaches not helping teachers” but would love to hear more. Are you referring to Special Education Programs and students?

      I think we all agree that we need quality, articulate teachers in our system, so that our students will achieve success in the real world.

      For some reason, I no longer find the edit button. I hope Judy and Paula can reinstate that feature on the site!

      • concernededucator

        Thanks for your comments. Yes quality programs and quality teachers are really very important. Especially in a district with such a great reputation. What I mean about the coaches is that we have 4 district coaches – 2 Literacy, 1 Math coach, 1 technology coach. Years ago teachers had the opportunity to apply for those positions, which gave teachers an opportunity to to try something different. Now we have outsiders coming in who have very little knowledge of our district. Teachers never see them, and yet they are holding 4 teaching positions. If we are looking to make more cuts, it doesn’t make sense to hold on to these positions when they have little impact on the classroom. Also this district has outside consultants working. With the special co-teachers. Why not let the directors support these teachers? There are lots of ways they can cut back on the budget but they always look to cut out valuable programs, increase class sizes and ask more from the staff.
        This community needs to keep asking the tough questions!

        • PSEUD ONYM

          Thanks for enlightening us about the waste of personnel. Has the district asked their personnel for insight into how to save money? You have true understanding about the inner going on that citizens have no clue about.

          Do you know if the district allows teachers who live out of district to school their children in our district without cost? I thought that practice had stopped, but now after speaking to someone I no longer am sure.

          Thank you for your insights.

          • concernededucator

            You are very welcome. It is actually enraging to see the waste. Many teachers live in this district so we are also affected by higher tax rates. The district doesn’t ask personnel per say for their insight although we can attend community meetings and give our input much like the rest of the community although it is a bit tricky whenever you put yourself out there. Teachers as well as all staff members in the district can opt to apply for their children to come to our schools. There is a fee for this and no guarantee that the child will be accommodated. I think the community should be aware that this is not a teacher only perk – it is open to ALL district employees – including central administration. In fact one of our Assistant Superintendents utilizes this perk.
            I hope this community continues to voice their concerns. Everyone is willing to tighten their belt in these tough economic times, but it is unfair to tighten the belt when there are so many things that get fluffed over. Class trips will get cut, ice skating will get cut, and class budgets will get cut, but funny how they find money for outside consultants (there happens to be one in the district tomorrow!),a bi- monthly special ed consultant, literacy and math coaches, and the list goes on.

            • Eleanor

              Do you happen to know how many children of district personnel we educate, and what the fees are for them to send their children to our school district? Do you know if there is there a written district policy on this practice?

              I personally know of a situation where they flew in a Special Education Technology Consultant, put him up at the Crown Plaza Hotel including a weekend, paid all expenses, for a math technology consultation. Problem is that his background was in “English” and had no knowledge of calculators. Nonetheless, he wrote the district the “report” they wanted. It’s pay back time.

        • Anon E Mous

          Has the School District considered the “Common Core” standards rather than reinventing the curriculum wheel and educational goals?

          Has the School District reviewed resources that might be available to it locally through Teachers College, Columbia University and the teacher education programs at the City University of New York. Considering what the District spends on staff, does it really need to travel the world for consultants?

          Are change and cost control uniquely infeasible here or is it just being very strongly resisted by the District?

          As Mark Twain said, The trouble ain’t that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain’t distributed right.

          • Eleanor

            I hope they are teaching our children “how to budget” in their curriculum. Perhaps, our children can work on a “plan to reduce costs” in the district. It can be a Middle School Project.

            The district doesn’t seem to include calculator instruction in their “Technology Plan.” Perhaps, they are having difficulty with the math.

            It’s so simple, even a child could understand it and can be done using a four function calculator.

            • Anon E Mous

              Hope ‘budgeting’ is taught, but no evidence apparent to support that.

              Perhaps our schools should also teach students how to question. Perhaps it could be a HS project to examine the budget and how the students would to pay for the accumulating debt in their future.

              It appears from your experience that there is too little evidence that enough people in the District knows how to use, or want to learn how to use, a calculator. Unfortunate, as one might show a graphical trend line of the budget and economy of the past and the future.

              Wasn’t a picture worth a thousand words? Maybe not the ones they want to hear?
              But it’s so simple even a child could understand it.

              As Einstein said, You can’t solve your problems with the same level of thinking that created the problems.

              • Eleanor

                I nominate Virtual Mayor “Anon E Mous” for our new Mamaroneck School District Superintendent of Schools!! ;-)

              • PSEUD ONYM

                Anon E Mous cracks me up. Thanks for your insights! You are right on target, and a philosopher to boot. :-)

            • Not a Teacher

              Budgeting is taught in the home. Somethings parents are accountable for – and budgeting is definitely one of them. Gimme a break. Teachers are not the sole responsibility for the education of their children. I’m tired of everyone letting parents off the hook more often than not.

              It is the parent not the teacher who is ultimately responsible for the ‘success’ of their children. Teachers are just one of the many influencing figures in a child’s journey through life. But a parent or parental figure is the one who is ultimately “responsible”. It would be nice if parents today could not only share in the glory of their kids successes but also take accountability for their failures too. This never happens anymore. And it’s delusional for parents to think they can blame it all on teachers today.

  • Anon E Mous

    It’s so simple a child could understand it:

    1. A teacher’s effectiveness can be measured.
    2. Effectiveness rather than seniority can be rewarded.
    3. You’d have to cut the average class size in half to get the same boost that you’d get if you switched from an average teacher to one in the eighty-fifth percentile. (Malcolm Gladwell, What the Dog Saw, 2009)

    • mr s

      And to get teachers in the 85th percentile, don’t you think you might have to recruit them with the possibility that they would get health care benefits, pension benefits, manageable class sizes, the opportunity to meet with specialists and consultants in their field to keep their instruction up to date, and that they would be valued by the community for their service to the town’s children?

      As for teachers’ salaries and raises, I believe that the contracts were NEGOTIATED, and that that process probably took into account reasonable expectations of inflation and CPI. So whoever negotiated those contracts should take some of the blame and lets not just lay it all on the teachers and staff – WE voted for those contracts…

      I try to remember that, while many businesses have suffered during this last 2 years, some businesses have profited as well. So while some families are hurting, not all families are hurting; and while I am deeply sympathetic to those who ARE hurting, we must take a long-term view of what we want as an community…don’t we value great schools? Do you think it’s easy or cheap to maintain anything of high quality? And how quickly that perceived quality can slip away? And can’t we organize around the values the community holds dear? For instance, none of my kids play sports at school – they’re a little bookish – but I think its our obligation as a community to support the kids who do get a lot out of the athletic department (tho honestly I do think national merit scholars deserve a parade down main street as much or more than high school baseball champions), as our parents did for us during hard times and good times…

      I think we should take the time to make a long term plan – maybe ten years? – that would give all the residents a real view of what’s at stake here.

      • Anon E Mous

        Sorry. Your letter of excuses has arrived. I receive the letter but do not admit the excuses except in courtesy, as when a man treads on your toes and begs your pardon – the pardon is granted, but the joint aches, especially if there is a corn upon it. (Lord Byron) :-)

        Sorry, but really, it’s so simple, even a child could understand it. So let’s hope this explanation suffices.

        Yes, good teachers should receive an appropriate compensation package commensurate with performance, achievement and ability to pay. Now where in the contact you referenced did you read the performance measurements associated with compensation? Or, perhaps you saw a chart of salaries based on years of service and degrees earned?

        Obviously, the contract did not take into account various possibilities including ones that occurred. Some banks and insurance companies did similarly, their contracts had various initials–we’re all paying for that. Some homeowners did similarly–they’ve lost their homes–we all need to do something about that. Wherever the blame lies for the school district contract, we all must confront reasonable and affordable solutions. Problems that are said can’t be solved, usually have solutions–good education helps people learn that.

        Do high prices guarantee high quality? Can we all think of expensive failures. Our community has good schools but what measures exist to show the ROI on our school taxes. It’s been said that what can’t be measured can’t be managed – perhaps an exception to the rule in the prior paragraph :-) . Who can tell us how the school district measured the impact of our schools on the education of the students. Quite possibly our schools could have provided better education at lower cost; others do.

        You raise some good questions, e.g.: 1. What expenses should the community incur in its tax burden for education and what related expenses should be allocated to the recipients of the services? 2. Do we fairly provide for the educational needs of various students? 3. What are the school district plans beyond this year or do some think the situation will return to the ‘old normal’ next year. Yes, we can’t get the same real estate taxes as in the past from homes facing foreclosures and homeowners who can’t afford to pay their allocated taxes.

        And while considering those questions we can remember, as John W. Gardner said, Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants.

  • lessons learnt

    Going back to the post about the square footage of the buildings (posted by a janitor’s spouse, I believe): When the crazy bond that funded the ridiculous expansion of real estate to 1 million square feet, some of us taxpayers questioned the need for acreage inflation, but were beaten down by the vociferous pro-small sized class, pro-excellence at all costs and pro-100% of our kids in Special Ed. Well, the chickens have come home to roost. Welcome to crowded classes while our hard-earned tax dollars go towards pension costs, (remember the savvy cost-saving practice, praised by the admin at the time, of retiring old teachers to replace them with young entrants? so smart now that COLA are written in the constitution, or so the trade unions say), custodial janitors or janitorial custodians to mind empty buildings and $260K a year super Ed Dr Superintendents.

  • larchmontlifer

    Thank you Concerneducator, for bringing up those “coaches” that cost the district hundreds of thousands of dollars and they don’t teach a single student any day of the week. The School Board claims differently, but from every “off the record” account I have heard from teachers, they are not helping/teaching the teachers!!

    My spouse and I attended all of the budget workshops last year and the hype was that these coaches would ensure that teachers would not leave their classes to attend outside workshops. The coaches would attend, then report back to the department. Yet, my children have had teachers absent, attending workshops/conferences this year. These are the things that make you say “hmm…”

    On another topic that perhaps you can answer, or perhaps the School Board or superintendent can answer- why is it that some teachers request substitutes when they are out, then those subs take attendance and then release the kids into the building 5 minutes later? Why do we pay for this? I haven’t checked recently, but aren’t we paying subs a figure approaching $100 a day? So, say you have even 5 subs a day at the high school, we’re talking about thousands $ per week. What a waste! Couldn’t just one sub be paid in the LGI to take attendance and run a study hall? Big savings and better use of time…

    Now, going off on a tangent, I read above, that one of the programs cut, could be skating. Is anyone else out there outraged that our district is charged a rather sizable $ figure to use the ice skating rink for gym class? For those of us who grew up here, the rink started as a winter use of the space where the spring/summer Hommocks Middle school tennis courts used to sit. It was transformed twice a year. And now we are charged for skating!?!? Aren’t we, the taxpayers, ultimately the owners of the rink? Did I miss something? Did we sell it to a private party?

    Additionally, the pool is a school district asset, “managed” by the Recreation Dept, who is supposed to pay rent to the district. Yet the Rec Dept collects their fees from the public, but hasn’t paid their rent, claiming they want a new contract. And on top of that, the high school swim teams, who should have priority morning, noon and night, are harassed by Recreation. It’s time for them to pay up and time for better cooperation by the Rec dept with the school district.


      Debbie Manetta, Director, Public Information

      Larchmontlifer, you made some very valid arguments and present outrageous facts if true. Who is watching our budget?

      I suggest we all email Ms. Manetta and ask her to validate the claims. We deserve to understand where and how our money is being spent. We are all entitled to know under Freedom of Information.

      Let Ms. Manetta help us understand. We can learn some very interesting facts under FOI. When addressing Ms. Manetta, make sure you include “Under Freedom of Information…I am requesting to know the following…” She will have approximately 30 days to respond to our request.

      We are still waiting for Ms. Manetta to provide the exact number of students that used a specific calculator model for the SAT’s. She had commented on this site, but never gave us the answer when when her claims were challenged. Did Ms. Manetta not tell the truth???


      • Anon E Mous

        FOILED OR FOOLED. Yes, follow the money. You can use the links below:

        Perhaps we’ll find one more reason why we have too many governments. We may even find out how many people our taxes are keeping to handle the exchange of funds in our governments.

        As James Madison said, Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives. A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or tragedy or perhaps both.