NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – The New Rochelle Board of Education has adopted a $245.45 million schools budget, representing a property tax levy increase of 1.41 percent for homeowners.
The adopted spending plan represents a 2.5 percent budget-to-budget increase over last year. The public will have the opportunity to comment on it at a 7:30 p.m. hearing on May 6 at the New Rochelle High School library, and the public vote will be held on May 20.
This year’s budget will decrease the student-to-teacher ratio in the classroom, increase STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and other education opportunities while maintaining all staff positions and improving safety. This is the first time in six years that New Rochelle hasn’t been forced to reduce its per pupil allocation.
Interim Schools Superintendent Jeffrey Korostoff said that he and the board were forced to take a hard look at the programs and school services which could be cut without damaging the district’s core activities.
“While our district has not yet turned the corner in difficult financial times, we do believe the pendulum is poised to begin an upward movement,” he said. “This is what we anticipated and announced a year ago, and most all of our financial projections and planning have proven to be accurate.”
Improving school safety is something that the Board of Education stressed in this year’s budget. The district will spend $50,000 on keyless entry systems, nearly $100,000 on window shades and $15,000 for a visitor management system at the high school. An additional $80,000 has been allotted for new public address systems and other safety devices.
Korostoff said that the district underwent an audit study by Vigilant Resources International that provided a series of recommendations on how safety could be improved.
“In an era when schools can no longer be viewed as a safe haven, we continue to dedicate funds to provide for the safety and security of our students and staff,” he said. “The ongoing training necessary to provide our district security with the capacity to keep our students and staff safe also remains a priority in this budget.”
The district, like countless others around Westchester County, continues to be plagued by escalating unfunded mandates. Since 2008, retirement contributions have increased from $15.6 million (3.3 percent of the budget) to more than $23 million (9.4 percent), even while reducing staff.
“The most important dynamic in the education of children is the interaction in the classroom between the student and their teacher,” Korostoff added. “This is the focus of our work and it is also the centerpiece of this spending plan. We estimate that over 75% of the dollars in this budget directly support classroom instruction and the provision of related pupil services.”
The complete budget can be reviewed here. What do you think of the adopted budget? Vote in our poll and continue the conversation in the comments section below.