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Port Chester Voters Oust Lopez, OK $81.3M School Budget

Budget easily passes. Corbia wins school board seat.

UPDATE: Port Chester School Board President Blanca Lopez has been ousted in today's election.

Port Chester school district voters today easily appoved the $81.3 million budget plan for 2012-2013, but they ousted school board President Blanca Lopez in a race that was decided by less than 100 votes.

In the three-person race for two school board seats, which included incumbent Jim Dreves was re-elected. Challenger Tom Corbia, a retired Port Chester teacher ended as the winner in the race against Lopez.

With 101 absentee ballots to be counted, Corbia was head of Lopez by 82 votes. With all the votes counted, Corbia won with 910 votes. Lopez finished with 814 votes.

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The budget cuts 13.5 reading support positions to close a gap that came with the district's decision not to exceed the state's new 2 percent cap for tax increase. The school board initially decided to get rid of full-day kindergarten, but agreed to keep the full-day program as part of the budget presented to the public.

The budget was easily approved, 1,030 to 534.

In the board races, Dreves finished with 1,040 votes.

Conservative NYer May 16, 2012 at 11:25 AM
Of course it passed. The majority of the voters who do vote don't pay school taxes. It's easy to vote yes when it's OPM!! (Reminder: Other people's money).
John Na May 16, 2012 at 12:18 PM
Bring the Reading Teachers back. there has to other areas to reduce!
Conservative NYer May 16, 2012 at 12:23 PM
1564!! THAT. IS. IT!! For all the people I chat with about school taxes and how they can't afford them anymore, etc... Only 1564 voted!! Shame on you if you complain constantly but did not get your butt out of the house to vote because of the rain!!
John Na May 16, 2012 at 02:23 PM
Ms. Lopez is a good person. She should be thanked for her service. However, residents don't understand how the SD could cut the entire reading program. She took the hit for Klitzius's master plan and a very weak and greedy teachers union. A union that does not understand the economic reality that we all live in. Too many administrators making big bucks and now secondary methods of teaching reading for our children. What were they thinking! Bring back the reading teachers and reduce somewhere else!
Linda Turturino May 16, 2012 at 03:53 PM
again, we have landlords with illegal apartments stealing from residents ...when is it going to end. I am looking at a bleak future for Port Chester and know I will not be here in my silver years because I will not be able to afford to be here. Meantime the slum lords are buying their retirement homes and sitting on a great big old green pile of my money !!!!
Linda Turturino May 16, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Congrats to Mr. Corbia he will be bringing alot to the table and a different prospective he could be the one who makes the difference for all of us
Maggie May 16, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Thank goodness it passed. For those who don't think homeowners voted for it, yes, we did.
Juan Jose Chajon May 16, 2012 at 04:51 PM
My hope is too, that Mr Corbia bring something fresh to the Board and for him to keep the same attitude that he has show on the BOE meetings, that He makes a priority to resolve the teachers contract and bring back the reading teachers. Something that give me hope is what He said, that He needs us in order for him to be successful. That the doors can be open at the schools for the parents to have a more active participation in the schools and not to be there just for donuts and coffee. Something good that had show this past budget process, is that a strong PTO makes the different and that was show by JFK PTO, they fought hard and they got back what they deserve. I hope that the BOE understand that process mater even if the outcome is the same. I was hoping that parents wouldn't panic and would said not to the budget to put pressure in the teachers Union, if nothing was resolve en then say YES just then. WE need to keep being involve in our kids education if we want change. Gandy said this. First they are going to laugh at us, then they are going to ignore us, then they are going to fight us and then we are going to be success".
Joe May 16, 2012 at 06:06 PM
Great , just what we needed. The system cried wolf and we set the tax BAR higher yet again! The poor students will have to do without .......I don't see the administrators ,teachers and anyone else on the taxpayers dole giving up anything substantial .Lets see a freeze across the board. If its all about the students, then I say 0% for all that love the kids!As for setting a budget without a teachers contract,that is insane. The teachers and staff will get a retroactive raise of some kind( 2-3% per year)when the dust settles.The taxpayer will have had their hands tied and have a double digit increase when that happens. Just like the U.S. Govt. lets not worry for today, when you can go deeper into debt for tomorrow We are a working class village, and the retired senior citizens, two job workers that slave away to make ends meet are saying good bye .Walk around this village and count the homes that are empty and falling into disrepair.Instead of the Restaurant capitol of Westchester, it looks like Detroit .Who wants to move into P.C. when they see that.Good schools mean higher property values- how many times have they stuck that down our throats. Now the only thing that's higher are the taxes
Conservative NYer May 16, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Good schools mean higher property values- how many times have they stuck that down our throats.. Really well than can someone tell me why PCHS received an abysmal rank of 158th in NYS when it comes to the best highs schools?? My $12K/year school taxes that I pay should produce a better ranking if that were the case!!
JC May 16, 2012 at 09:28 PM
I think no one can answer your question, at lease not here, because the only way they can fix their problems is with more money. No new ideas and the public panic as Joe says. 27,000 residents and 1,500 decided our fate.
Blogger May 16, 2012 at 09:47 PM
@Conservative NYer - a better indicator of school spending is per pupil spending, and Port Chester's is lower than all our surrounding districts by far at $17-$18K per pupil. Your school taxes would be lower if the village had a better tax base to spread it out over. Homeowners bear the brunt whereas other towns/cities have corporations and large companies to share the burden.
Conservative NYer May 16, 2012 at 10:30 PM
$18,900 to be exact.. Our school taxes would be lower if EVERYONE PAID INTO THE SCHOOL TAXES!!! That is just an excuse not having enough corporations to bear the brunt of it.
Sarah Rogers May 17, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Good Luck to Mr. Corbia. He will need it. Blanca Lopez lost because of very strong PTA’s at both Edison and especially Kennedy Schools. They would not accept that eliminating the Reading Program made any sense. Parents should be more upset with teachers union who could have solved the entire reading mess if they had a leadership that understood the economic reality’s we are all facing.
Linda Turturino May 17, 2012 at 03:42 PM
I agree Sarah and anyone you talk to thinks getting rid of the reading program is NUTS !!! More reading and less TV and Video games = smarter kids
AA11 May 17, 2012 at 04:05 PM
@Conservative NYer- You hit the nail on the head, too bad everyone is too politically correct to address the issue
Sarah Rogers May 17, 2012 at 07:51 PM
Thanks Linda, It is amazing how few people stood up to tell the SD how crazy it was to cut the reading program and even more amazing the union did not stand together to show unity. People just looking out for themselves. The night the Board of Ed abolished the 14 positions there was not a union rep to be seen or heard from. No leadership! Please note I am not saying the money for the reading program should be added to increase the amount of the budget. If the district needed the savings the cuts should have spread throughout the entire budget. They cut reading and left in things that are simply not as critical. The pain of the cuts should have been spread throughout the budget. We all know the cuts were a Dr. Klitzius’s scare tactic designed to get the union to cave. It should have worked but the union is greedy and is willing to sacrifice jobs if those left can get more $$! Our kids will suffer and the union big wigs will get their money!
Cadeyrn May 17, 2012 at 11:21 PM
Sarah, you're correct. The real stick-in-the-spoke for the last several months has been the teachers' union. THEY are the ones responsible for the cuts in the reading program. That program could have been saved by the union IF they had the children of PC first in mind. THEY DON'T. They were masterful in lying low ... waiting for the budget wave to crash ... and now they'll be back at the table more entrenched than ever. It's time to tackle the teacher unions as well as seek mandate relief. The current compensation model is ludicrous ... especial even more so in light of the times we face. Let's see if the new board has the moxie for that dust-up.
George Datino May 18, 2012 at 10:24 AM
Yes, the local teacher's union should get some of the blame but the biggest culprit and biggest threat is coming from the state union. They are the one's controlling the strings attached to state politicians. They have systematically created a system that is out of touch with the realities of our economic times. They have created a state wide school system that has increased the mission of our schools from the "3 R's" to the solution provider for every problem faced by our children, all at the expense of the taxpayer. I am not privy to the inner workings of our local teachers union and what is behind their decisions in the negotiations, but I am sure the state union has a lot of say as to what is going on. After all, wasn't Ms. O'Connor (President fo the local union) a reading program teacher and now slated to lose her job?
Elihu Smails May 21, 2012 at 02:02 AM
Rumor has it that Dr. Kliszus will be asking for an extension/vote to extend his current contract either on the May 30th or the June 27th BOE meeting while there is still a solidarity 3-2 vote.
Concerned View May 21, 2012 at 10:43 AM
If the SD burned through a quarter of its cash reserves and still had to cut 14 positions to make budget, what are they going to do next year and the year after? This story is going to repeat itself. Think half day Kindergarten will happen eventually.
George Datino May 21, 2012 at 11:07 AM
I guess he could ask. The question is how the Board reacts?
Ralph Spoilsport May 21, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Wait a minute... What perspective? Mr. Corbia is a career educator. We have plenty of teachers at the table already. Do you think we need one more? His past connections to the teachers union is bad news to PC taxpayers. He brings nothing but hubris and arrogance to the table. That kind of thing helps if one sells cars. He wouldn't know a school budget if it grew legs, walked over, and punched him in the nose.
RRC66 May 22, 2012 at 03:18 AM
You can count on Klitzius asking for an extension and I guess they can use the reading teachers money to pay for it. BTW....George D. Linda O'Connor, outgoing union head will have a job even if the cuts are made. She is tenured as a classroom teacher so she will be left standing all the way to the bank while hiding the truth from her union. Truth is the SD offered to take all teachers back if the union switched to the same health insurance. An insurance that over 70% of all teachers already have. Insurance for all teachers and an agreement to keep negotiaiting. A deal that would have saved money and brought back all teachers for one year. Her team denies it and would not even present it the union members. Someone is lying. Imagine the union can save all the jobs by switching to an insurnce they all currently have. They won't do it! So next time you go to blame the School Board think again. How does the union allow this. Many people know this is the truth. Why won't the SD just come out and admit they made the offer and let the union explain their lack of action. I wonder which part of the union will be hung out next year?
George Datino May 22, 2012 at 10:41 AM
RRC66, I am not sure what you are talking about with "So next time you go to blame the School Board think again.". I think I have been quite clear in my comments that the Union (with I am sure heavy pressure from the state union) is being unrealistic in their negotiations, at this point. Sure, at first, I understood their position, with the Triborough Amendment in place and all the state aid figures not in yet, to hold off and wait. But with everything in, that they haven't agreed to something close to what I believe the offer to be (1 inusrance and modest pay raises for the next three years) is perplexing and that they would rather have all these teachers let go selfish. My criticism of the school board has always been with the way their insistence on blaming this situation on the Tax Cap and not the underlying factors that are the real cause. The Tax Cap has bought these factors to light and honestly is a good thing. We need change, not year after year blind payments into an education system that is hemorrhaging and slowly bankrupting the taxpayers of our community and state. I found the blaming of the problems on the Tax Cap to be a calculated way to turn the general publics attention away from the real problems. Now for my comment as to see how the board reacts, I am curious to see if the current board, as constituted now, will simply handle day to day type of issues and leave non-imperative longer term issues to the new board, which would be a usual practice.
John Na May 22, 2012 at 10:54 AM
if it is true the SD offered the opportunity to save the reading program for at least a year why would the union not be willing to accept that. It seems like a good faith offer to save an important program and positions for their union? I Ion't get it.
Robert Johnson May 22, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Thanks for your comments, George. If you listened to my statements, I never used the Tax Cap as the sole excuse for PC budget problems. The fundamental cause of our school budget woes is that a Tax Cap- WITHOUT MANDATE RELIEF- is unfair to districts like Port Chester. Our schools rely on a large percentage of state and federal funds. These extra funds subsidize our property owners which enable us to provide a sound education for the children of PC. As you may know our school district has one of the lowest property tax levies and per student costs in our area. Obviously, Triborough is in the mix as an unfunded mandate and it needs to be reformed. Many of our wealthier districts are able to keep many programs in place this year because their budgets have smaller state and federal assistance programs, so a modest 2% increase in taxes produces a greater revenue stream. Even still, many of those well-to-do districts are positioned to layoff teachers next school year. The Tax Cap, without mandate relief, can only be cured by Albany. Most reasonable people agree that the job loses in education will continue unless something is done at the state level. I think I speak for the entire board, that when we criticize the Tax Cap, we are also criticizing the full spectrum of unfunded mandates that remain unchanged while the restrictions under the Tax Cap provision became law.
George Datino May 22, 2012 at 05:39 PM
I have read your comments and other board members and it for the most part, it always seems that the Tax Cap was always the primary reason stated for the budget woes. Compare this upcoming budget with last year's. The school district is getting increased revenue in both State Aid and property taxes, yet that isn't enough to compensate for the increase in expenses. Did the Tax Cap cause the increase in Expenses? No. Did the Tax Cap bring about the Unfunded Mandates? No. Did the Tax Cap bring about the Triborough Amendment? No. Did the Tax Cap overcrowed the district with way too many students that should be here? No. By blaming the Tax Cap, you are lumping all the expenses into it. When, in fact, all these issues have existed before the Tax Cap and what the Tax Cap has done is shine a light on them. Now that the light is shinning, can we solve them all? You are right, the answer for the most part lies within Albany. However, we all need to keep pressure on our State representatives and also keep pressure on both Village Board of Trustee's to fight illegal housing even harder and any other additional housing projects that will overcrowed our schools even more.

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