NEW ROCHELLE, NY — Voters in the City of New Rochelle will have the opportunity on Tuesday to decide on the School District’s revised school budget for 2018-19. The $270,381,160 spending plan stays within the state tax cap, preserves programming and includes funds to add school counselors and several other positions as well as safety and security measures.
The tax levy increase – the amount of money to be raised by property taxes – is 2.231 percent, which is the same amount as the cap allows. To stay within that limit, the City School District of New Rochelle administration proposed a series of measures cutting $3.4 million from the tax levy included in the $272.8 million budget voters rejected on May 15. The tax levy in the new budget is $209,002,162, an increase of $4,560,520 over the levy of $204,441,642 in the 2017-18 budget.
The newly adopted budget carries an estimated tax rate of $785.72 per $1,000 of assessed value. That’s an increase of $21 per $1,000, or 2.75 percent. The current rate is $764.72 per $1,000. Under the revised adopted budget, the tax bill for a home assessed at $16,000, the city average, would be $12,571.52, an increase of $335.95. Such a home has an estimated market value of $695,000.
All necessary programs, faculty and staff positions currently in place for this school year are maintained in the revised budget. The plan includes funds for four additional counselors at New Rochelle High School, the equivalent of 2.1 added English-as-a-New-Language teachers, three new special education teachers, plus an added special education teaching assistant and education aide. It also includes funds for additional safety measures, to be determined by the Board of Education, from recommendations 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.
Here are the changes from the initial budget, which failed on May 15:
$736,867: Eliminated by foregoing the planned addition of three psychologists and three social workers.
$642,219: Eliminated by foregoing the inclusion of several contingent positions placed in the budget for unexpected needs.
$200,000: A reduction from the initial $400,000 set aside to implement safety and security recommendations from the Task Force on Reducing Violence in the Lives of Children and Youth and from Guidepost Solutions. (The proposed budget allocates $200,000 for the recommendations.)
$598,778: Savings from a retirement incentive offered earlier this year that was not known when the initial budget was presented.
$245,069: Savings in technology purchasing by eliminating redundancy and products that are under-used.
$975,684: Appropriation from the employee retirement system reserve fund.
The 2018-19 budget has been developed using zero-based budgeting principles as the current District administration has done the last few years. It allows for greater opportunities to most efficiently allocate resources and coordination among District professionals to support the District’s educational goals and mission.
Increased debt service
New York State has allocated an additional $3.3 million in state building aid, which would allow the School District to increase the amount of money it spends paying off loans, called debt service. The additional state funding helps cover nearly all of the District’s debt related to the first two phases of construction of the Capital Bond Project.
The two phases of construction, comprising $51 million, almost half the anticipated bond-funded work, have brought necessary improvements to the schools, from new roofs at Barnard and Webster to a new bus lane at Jefferson, grounds improvements and new locker rooms at Isaac E. Young and a host of improvements at New Rochelle High School, from the entrance and the McKenna Field retaining wall to the slate roof.
If the budget does not pass
Under New York State Education Law, if the budget fails to get voter approval on two separate votes (the second vote is Tuesday, June 19), the District would be subject to a contingency budget. The contingency budget limits a district’s ensuing year levy to the amount of the prior year’s levy. In the case of New Rochelle Schools, the District would have to reduce its 2018-2019 tax levy by $4.5 million (in addition to the $3.4 million already cut from the levy for this current budget). To cut the budget by this amount, the District would examine the need to forgo capital improvements to security infrastructure and cafeterias, eliminate non-mandated transportation, reduce athletics and extracurricular activities and/or cut staff positions, which could increase class sizes and/or diminish elective course offerings.
For more information
Click on the links below, which include an updated list of questions and answers, or visit the School District’s home page to learn more about the budget and how it will affect students, parents and other New Rochelle residents:
Learn more about the budget on the District’s website, www.nred.org.