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Voters Say Students Come First as School Budget Passes

For residents who voted to approve Port Chester's school budget, having children in the district was often the deciding factor.

How did you vote on Tuesday? If you're like most other folks in Port Chester, the answer likely came down to whether or not you have kids in school.

Port Chester residents headed to the polls Tuesday, while choosing two Board of Education members .

Like the many budget and public meetings in the months leading up to the day's crucial vote, opinions on the budget often came down to one thing: whether or not voters have children in the school district.

School officials cited declining state aid, rising pension and benefit costs for staff, and the overall economic downturn as they went through several rounds of budget talks, trimming their proposed budget version-by-version from initial estimates of more than $82 million to the $79,555,725 budget taxpayers voted on Tuesday.

While many village residents have expressed strong opinions on both sides, those opinions ultimately don't matter unless they vote, said Port Chester resident Cathy Rosenfeld. Rosenfeld had three daughters in the school district and said she was voting for the budget so school officials "maintain the level of education."

"You have to support public education," she said, encouraging others to vote. "You can't complain unless you have a voice to do so."

Zafar Iqbal expressed similar sentiments as he headed to the Port Chester Middle School gym to vote on Tuesday. Iqbal said the programs many consider "extras" are especially valuable to kids and parents.

"I want my kids to have a better education," he said. "I don't mind paying a little extra in taxes to benefit my kids."

But not everyone felt the same way. One man, who declined to give his name, said he's owned property in Port Chester for 26 years. Like others who opposed any form of budget hike, he said not enough has been done to control spending.

"I'm paying over $10,000 a year in taxes," he said, "and that's enough."

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Mary Touri May 18, 2011 at 10:10 AM
Thankyou to all those who voted YES...A good education is priceless...And our teachers are worth every dollar !!!
Conservative NYer May 18, 2011 at 11:28 AM
Great! More taxes I cannot wait! It gets me so excited that I NOW get to pay $13,200 for school taxes alone. I think I may have to burn down my house in order to get the heck out of here because I will never be able to sell a house in P.C. with taxes that total up to $25,200! Yippee I cannot wait to see how many PC graduates get accepted to Columbia, MIT, Yale, Brown, Cornell, Princeton between now and the next ten years.
George Datino May 18, 2011 at 12:08 PM
Unfortunately yesterday's budget vote had very little to do with what your school taxes were going to be this coming year. I have a daughter in school and I still voted No but was in reality a symbolic vote. Even if the budget was turned down, the BOE simply would have put up either the same or close to the same budget and if by some strange reason it was turned down again, the austerity budget that would have kicked in simply would have taken away sports, band, etc. which in reality are merely pimples on the proverbial elephant's ###. The only way we will see a difference in our school taxes if we change the way schools are financed and that has to happen at the State level. It doesn't help that the school is overcrowded because of decades of corruption in the village government that has let overcrowding run rampant throughout the village. Of course we can't let the Rye Brook BOT off the hook with the number of people living in the District #4 section of the village and of course, we are going to put the affordable housing project in that area as well. We can fit a few more kids into those classes, they won't mind they are used to being on top of each other.
Just A Mom May 18, 2011 at 02:05 PM
Wow! I guess only the kids that go to Ivy League schools are worth the money! My kids are graduates of the PC Schools and are very successful, thank you very much! The way to resolve this issue is not taking it out on the students, it's getting to Albany to change the way schools are funded. In the meantime, the students of this district deserve the best education we can give them.
Conservative NYer May 18, 2011 at 02:35 PM
"Just a mom" perhaps you did not understand my point. All that money goes into one student and the outcome should be much better but it's not. The catholic school I send my child to spends $12,000 per student!! And catholic schools out shine the public schools each and every time and with less money in their budget. I am a product of a public school education myself but that was back then when the unions were not so strong and teachers taught because they had the passion to teach not because they get the summers off and the various holidays among other benefits. Harrison spends $29K per student and they are dead last with SAT scores to that of their counterparts in Scarsdale... Something is not working and the taxpayers are getting bled. I don't mind paying for something as long as you get stellar results. Unfortunately the children in this school district that we spend $25+K per student (don't know the exact amount but I know it's more than $12K!) cannot even speak or write proper English.
Mary Touri May 18, 2011 at 03:55 PM
Our PC children do know how to speak and write proper English. PC Schools have and do prepare their kids to be sucessful and they do go on to all the colleges of their choice And our teachers are the most loving, passionate & dedicated teachers there are. They deserve every penny !! Our children do get stellar results !! Do not make uneducated assumptions, not fair to our schools, teachers, administrators and most of all our amazing PC kids !!
Conservative NYer May 18, 2011 at 09:31 PM
I do not make uneducated assumptions. I go by the test scores for Westchester County. With all due respect your comments are nothing but your personal opinion something I can say I respectfully disagree. The entire system is corrupt starting at the state level all the way down to this board.
Conservative NYer May 18, 2011 at 09:45 PM
From the year of 2010: "Of the county’s 44 public high schools, six schools (Briarcliff, Blind Brook, Bronxville, Edgmont, Pleasantville, and Valhalla) had perfect (100 percent) four-year graduation rates. Only 9 had graduation rates under 90 percent: Elmsford (87), New Rochelle (78), Ossining (78), Peekskill (73), PORT CHESTER (69), Sleepy Hollow (82), White Plains (84), Yonkers’s Lincoln (83) and Yonkers’s Roosevelt (67)." For that kind of money per pupil PC should be at 100% graduation rate! Average SAT scores 1370 the only other schools behind PC are Yonkers & Saunders (1325) and Mount Vernon (1225)! So tell me again why I am paying so much for dismal results? http://www.westchestermagazine.com/Westchester-Magazine/April-2009/High-School-Report-Card/index.php?cparticle=2&siarticle=1#artanc
Joe May 18, 2011 at 10:06 PM
There is no corruption in the school system! We all should make sure that the students of P.C. get the best that our tax dollars can buy! Stop using the teachers for a door mat. Maybe you should ask them to work a full year. Or co - pay increase in the medical plans. Lets have the administrators do with a little less also, maybe not given a clothing allowance, huh .Next you'll say that the signs they put up for the budget increases shouldn't be paid for out of the schools money either.
Al Dente May 18, 2011 at 11:50 PM
Conservative NYer - Port Chester's school budget that just passed assumes the LOWEST per pupil spending in the county: $18K per student. If you want to know how Catholic schools do it for less, consider that they staff their schools with uncertified teachers. Less qualified = less expensive. Further, few if any Catholic schools can afford to offer the array of sports, clubs and music/theatre/arts programs that one typically finds in public schools.
Mary Touri May 19, 2011 at 11:09 AM
Thankyou Al Dente, I am so tired of defending our amazing Schools and it's teachers to close minded people. I have 2 that graduated and went on to college and I have a freshmen. My facts are from experience ! I wouldn't live anywhere else.
Julia Byrnes May 19, 2011 at 04:30 PM
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