NEW ROCHELLE, NY — The New Rochelle Board of Education tonight adopted a proposed $272,804,093 budget for the 2018-2019 school year that maintains existing programs, invests in social and emotional supports, and adds needed teaching positions. It also allows for a deeper investment in safety and security measures.
The budget proposal has a 3.89 percent tax levy increase, which means the budget exceeds the state tax cap, which is 2.231 percent for New Rochelle. That means the budget will need 60 percent of the voters to approve the measure, rather than a simple majority, when the budget goes before voters on May 15.
The total proposed taxes to be collected by the school district will be $212,400,779, or 77.76 percent of the proposed budget. In addition, $47,416,327 will come from state aid and $12,986,987 will come from other sources.
The plan carries a spending increase of $13,181,605, or 5.08 percent, over the current year’s budget.
“This budget was created through a deliberative, thoughtful and sound process that maintains or augments staffing levels,” said Board of Education President Rachel Relkin. “We do not take the step of proposing a budget to the voters that exceeds the tax cap lightly. This spending plan is responsive to the community’s requests for increased social-emotional supports and maintains high-quality programming for our students in a district where per-pupil spending is historically among the lowest in the county. The Board is supportive of this budget.”
All programs, faculty and staff positions currently in place for this school year are maintained in the proposed budget. The spending plan includes additional supports to foster the emotional health and social well-being of students. It also includes funds for additional safety measures that will be recommended by the Task Force on Reducing Violence in the Lives of Children and Youth and from a security assessment being conducted by the global firm Guidepost Solutions.
“Residents of New Rochelle will have before them a budget that achieves the district’s goals of addressing the emotional and social needs of students while maintaining New Rochelle’s standard of high-quality educational programs,” said Dr. Osborne. “This administration has met the challenges of reducing expenses while maintaining programs the last few years. This year, the majority of increases are coming from the many fixed costs that are associated with existing teachers and staff, including salaries, FICA/Medicare, retirement funding and benefits such as health insurance. We are also trying to maintain or grow our fund reserves so we will be able to better handle future economic downturns so they won’t dramatically impact our students.”
Proposed new positions meet two needs. The first is additional positions providing social emotional supports for students and families. They include four school counselors at New Rochelle High School (one in each house); three school psychologist FTEs, for full-time equivalents (Barnard Early Childhood Center 1.5, Columbus Elementary School .5, Davis Webster Elementary School .5 restoration of a position, Trinity Elementary School .5 restoration; and three school social worker FTEs (Barnard .6 restoration, Columbus .5, Trinity 5, William B. Ward Elementary School .4, Albert Leonard Middle School .5 restoration, Districtwide .5).
The second is providing more teaching positions to address pressing student needs. They include 2.1 English as a New Language teacher FTEs (Albert Leonard 1, Isaac E. Young Middle School .6, Ward .5); three special education teachers (one each at New Rochelle High School, Albert Leonard, Isaac E. Young); and one special education teaching assistant and one special education aide (both at the high school).
The additions are proposed in a school system that educates almost 11,000 students.
A significant portion of the spending increase – $3 million – is additional debt service on payments coming due for the first two phases of construction being funded by the sale of $106.5 million in bonds. That added spending is revenue-neutral as essentially all of it is covered by state building aid. Without it added debt service, the increase in spending would be 3.92 percent.
A public hearing on the budget will be held at 7 p.m., May 1 at the New Rochelle High School Library. There the public will have the opportunity to comment on the spending plan. A final budget will be put before voters on May 15.
For more information about the 2018-19 Proposed Budget, visit a designated page on the district http://www.nred.org/groups/15832/board_of_education/budget_vote_and_elections.
A second proposition will set up a capital reserve fund that will not impact taxpayers. The fund will be established to receive the District’s share of the City of New Rochelle’s Fair Share Mitigation Fund, which is comprised of mandatory contributions from developers. The reserve fund will be used for construction and renovation costs.