The Lowest Operating Budget in Seven …

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The Lowest Operating Budget in Seven Years   by Peggy Godfrey  (Westcheter Herald, April 9, 2009 issue)


     The New Rochelle public school budget was called a “maintenance” budget by John Quinn, Assistant Superintendent for Business and Administration.  He said this plan included moving from a half day to a full day kindergarten and characterized the budget impact as “minimal.”  The schools’ staff was cut by 7.4 positions and these are to be used for the kindergarten classes. Some new expenses will be covered by a state education grant and through state formulas.  Quinn told the New Rochelle Citizens Reform Club and the Confederation of Neighborhood Associations that savings had been achieved in various ways in the budget such as insurance costs and energy conservation.  The preliminary budget was based on the Governor’s proposed budget. While 4.9% was projected for a real estate tax increase, Quinn emphasized this was ‘the lowest operating budget in the last seven years.”

     Marino Michelotti asked how much was placed in this budget proposal for salaries.  The answer was this can not be discussed but the goal of the board was to try to have negotiations completed before the budget vote. George Imburgia asked why they couldn’t say to the unions there will be no salary increases. Quinn added the actual budget increase of 3.75% is less than the contingency budget.  The questions arose about how many times the Board of Education had settled the contract before and how many times after the budget vote.  The reply was that these union contracts had mostly been settled after the budget vote.  Board of Education member, David Lacher, who attended the meeting expressed his concern that residents only really vote on 6 or 7% of the budget.

     Rosemary Spalin lamented that education has gone downhill.  She later stated that she was happy to hear the schools are going green to save money because Jefferson School is lit up all night long.  In her view the real substance of the budget was not covered at the meeting.

     Anthony Sutton, a real estate broker, who has been an activist for 20 years on school budgets, said this is not the time to give raises, especially since there are 131 foreclosures in New Rochelle.  Betty Ann Lewin said she thought Mr. Quinn was trying to be informative, but considering the size of the budget the cuts are not enough in these troubled financial times.  Marino Michelotti said he came to this meeting to hear about the budget, but he felt he had heard nothing about the finances in the budget.

     After the presentation three candidates for the upcoming school board election spoke briefly:  Jack Wagner, Jeffrey Hastie, and incumbent Deidre Polow.

3 thoughts on “The Lowest Operating Budget in Seven …”

  1. absolutely correct this
    absolutely correct this woman is dangerously out of touch and ill-suited to membership on a district’s school board who are wasteful, secretive, mean-spirited, neglectful of anything remotely resembling due process and haven’t got the vaguest notion what expense management is all about.

    the message to the city administration is very very clear. you continue to drag an anchor around the city and it will be your downfall unless you finally realize the cause and effect of a school board and administration that not only has raised havoc among the poor taxpayer’s limited means (especially the old, childless, or poor/middle class) but one that is going to force you too face the stark reality of trying to finally develop a long-range capital budget that has to take the need for new school construction as well as needed maintenance of existing infrastructure.

    richard organisciak is precisely the wrong man for the job and for the city but the right man for this collection of egocentric, no talents populating the board. when asked to look at growth and expansion he looks at something he called a “demographic study” and called upon the world renown “experts” at BOCES Suffolk for assistance. I guess the board and city fathers thought this was a proper response. NO< NO< NO a proper response is more interest in current and projected occupancy rates per each school in the district. This is so elemental it hurts. If the board was even remotely aware of this, New Rochelle HS would not be in the position it is in, but of course we have an art and drama provision and artificial turf for our athletes. that is fine, but that is not the path to high SATs and improving a 76% or so graduation rate. But then again, Organisciak can blame it on our "diversity" in our school board which is code for something rather chilling. It is as short-sighted and wrong as citing occupancy rates at Avalon and other new construction as a means to measure student growth. BOCES delivered something a year or so earlier about birthdays, etc... what respect for the significant juxtaposition of a quality system vs a residential business plan. Vote for anyone that runs against any incumbent. Go further vote against any council member who fails to raise the critical issue of school board oversight and performance. Demand the dismissal of the city manager, planning head, anyone else who fails to have the stomach to look at what is being faced here and stands in front of the voter, especially in parts of the city where things require immediate corrective action. Come on -- the previous blogger knows what the hell he or she is talking about. Do you have any idea of the student size of the high school or ward school just to mention two. Do you have any insight of the decrease in student productivity over the last 10 or so years when compared to our peers in westchester alone. have you heard about the many emerging issues in isaac young and wonder how many others have been suppressed. do you realize that dissenting community voices are routinely and harshly squashed by board incumbents. Do these people know anything about oversight or policy. THEY DO NOT1 you all need to imagine that there is no such thing as state aid. you all need to support a budget process that begins by paring expenses. you all need to demand the tough choices made by many of our community neighbors. if you don't then you must remember the wisdom of these words..."People get the government they deserve." I am not anonymous I am warren gross

    1. I say we get rid of
      I say we get rid of government all together gross! What is your backround in school administration again? I’m not sure anyone has ever seen you involved in the school district. Or any school district for that matter? What is the sudden interest you want to take in the school district? Are you wishing to lower your taxes and destroy the schools?

  2. Diedre Polow must go. At a
    Diedre Polow must go. At a time when concerned citizens are pleading the case to cut the budget, mainly because we can’t afford it this year, she says “We have to spend the money”. This is a microcosm of the arrogance this board exhibits everytime they open their mouths. Yes, spend the money, “to attract more people”. Where will we put them? Trinity, jefferson, Columbus, they’re all busting at the seams, with no relief in sight. On top of that the city wants to continue develpoment to add 10,000 more people. There is no master plan. This isn’t just a “slow year”, a small glitch. In case they haven’t noticed, people are losing their homes because the economy is so bad and they’re giving themselves raises. Doesn’t that bother anyone? The budget still hasn’t properly addressed the issue of property re assesment. They stand by the figure of a 1.4% reduction in assesed values,(that was the reduction last year when things were much better than now) and yet the commissioner of finance says it might be as high as 3%. If you call .3% = 1 million then we’re looking at the possibility of over a 5million dollar miscalculation that will need to be collected from you and me. As a comparison, White Plains (whom the B of E likes to be compared to) is seeing a 30% increase in the number of re assesment requests. If this pans out as predicted then the state contingency budget should be less than the B of E budget. Watch the numbers and ask questions so you make a decision you can live with.
    We’re lucky, I guess, that the Avalon hasn’t filled up with families. There’s a large population of college kids there because of the economics of kids splitting an apartment and that explains why the impact on the schools hasn’t been felt.
    This isn’t a case of ” I read it on the web, it must be true”. Find out for yourself, ask questions, check the facts. If I’m wrong then correct me. I want to be wrong and believe we wont be banged with even more taxes than their telling us. The truth is out there.
    If I were to design the campaign slogan for Deidre Polow it would say “Vote for me and I promise not to change a thing” or ” I want to spend more of your money than you have”
    As for me, I will vote for anyone who isn’t an incumbent. And, I will vote NO on the first budget vote. Remember: 1) voting no doesn’t mean the schools won’t get money, it means they have to go back to the drawing board and come back with a better idea. 2) Voting no doesn’t stop the full day kindergarten, the start up will be funded by the state and feds this year.
    Check the facts and vote your concience. Please.

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