The Port Chester School District has approved a spending plan for next year that will tack on an additional $2.2 million in spending.
At an April 14 budget presentation, officials calculated expenditures at $79.5 million for the 2011-2012 school year—a significant jump from last year’s $77.3 million.
Officials said that overall district upkeep, rising teacher salary costs and $16 million in employee benefits—up $2 million from last year's budget—are partially responsible for the new village tax bill. High student enrollment in the district has also made classroom sizes large already, so eliminating staff members would cause overcrowding.
“There are several classes in the district that have over 25 [students] in them," said Jim Taylor, president of the school board. "That doesn’t give much room to reduce staff."
The district is set to receive $700,000 more in state aid than was initially expected, which may help homeowners breathe a little easier come tax time.
With the district's state aid now at $15.1 million, the overall tax levy sits at 3.31 percent and will maintain current teacher positions. But the change from last year’s tax figures will be sure to create mixed feelings from residents around poll time.
“[The school board] has done a good job realizing the economic circumstances we’re in—families are collectively trying to survive,” said Port Chester taxpayer and local chapter President of the NAACP, John Reavis.
Thanks to an incentive that encouraged 28 teachers to retire this June, $1.2 million will be saved by hiring new teachers for next year. Reductions in work-time for two library clerks will save another $18,000.
Additional funds will be saved by reducing the incoming school superintendent's salary by $30,000 to $220,000. Assistant Superintendents Maura McAward and Frank Fanelli will also not be receiving raises this September.
In tough economic times, a $327 million drop in Port Chester assessed property value has caused residents to scramble for dough, according to officials.
The district has already eliminated librarians positions, cut aids and hall monitors, and stopped elementary school bussing on field trips to Port Chester Middle School’s planetarium in recent years.
“We’ve made tough decisions in the past and we’ve done our work already. That’s why you won’t see the drama here that you may in other school districts [come budget time] this year,” Taylor added.
A public hearing will be held on May 5, followed by the budget vote on May 17.
Editor's Note: The article previously said that the district's expenditures were set to increase by $2.5M. The correct figure is $2.2M. Also, the article previously cited a $327 billion drop in assessed property value. The correct amount, according to the school district's data, is $327 million.