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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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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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