May 30, 2014


Does district have a ‘Pound Ridge’ problem?

Bedford Central has been stressing communication in the budget process since Dr. Jere Hochman took charge in 2008. His efforts paid off again, as the Bedford Central School District’s 2014-15 budget passed 1,350-763, with 64 percent of voters approving the $126.5 million proposal. The budget shows a 1.15 percent increase from last year and a 1.41 percent tax levy increase, which is under the state-mandated tax cap.

“For the sixth year in a row, the board of education has responded to voices from all corners of the school district expressing the desire to keep the tax levy below the tax cap, to control spending with structural financial changes, and to keep our comprehensive program for students intact, garnering continued success in all that we do,” said Dr. Hochman after the vote on May 20.

Voters at four of Bedford Central’s five elementary school polling places overwhelmingly passed the budget. Only Pound Ridge rejected the proposal, 278-268. West Patent approved it by a vote of 221-62; Mount Kisco by 330-114; Bedford Hills by 184-89; and Bedford Village by 347-219.

The story here is the Pound Ridge vote. There are no readily apparent reasons why the budget was defeated, even by a slim 9-vote margin. It is true that because of equalization rates, the estimated tax rate this year sees a 4.31 percent rise in Pound Ridge. This contrasts sharply with Bedford, which saw a -2.99 percent drop. But other district communities — Mount Kisco, New Castle and North Castle — saw an estimated tax rate change of 5.75, 8.86 and 7.84 percent, respectively. In addition, over the past six years the average change in tax rate for Pound Ridgers is only 1.20 percent, the lowest of Bedford Central’s five communities.

What then accounts for the no votes?

One reason may be a declining student population. Theory has it that families without elementary school-age children are more likely to vote no to budgets. In 2008, there were 20 classes at Pound Ridge Elementary School; now there are 18. The elementary school’s population was 412 but has decreased to 369 students this year and a projected 358 in 2014-15.

Perhaps it is that Pound Ridgers feel overburdened by taxes. At 5,104 residents, or 16 percent, they make up a fraction of the entire school district’s population of 32,000, yet their share of the levy is 25.24 percent.

Or maybe it is because they are currently unrepresented on the school board, with none of the seven members residing in their community.

Is there an unspoken discontent?

Whatever the reason, or reasons, the vote is alarming for those who value quality education and community support for it.

Towns that support their school district budget tend to draw young families looking to raise children. That, in turn, is good for home values.

“I am eager to move forward now, bringing the entire school community together to review our success and challenges,” said Dr. Hochman following the vote.

That is a step in the right direction. Clearly, the goal for the board and administration this year will be to take a hard look at what they can do better in Pound Ridge.


A salute to Wendy Ross

This weekend, we, along with many others, will join in celebrating the career achievements of Wendy Ross at the John Jay Homestead. The retiring executive director, Ms. Ross, is being honored with the Founders Award at “In the Garden,” a celebration of the Homestead’s gardens and grounds.

Ms. Ross is recognized as an advocate and ambassador for the Homestead, helping to bring the former home of our first chief justice to national prominence.

The Founders Award was established in 2008 by the Friends of John Jay Homestead to honor local individuals and organizations that, following in the tradition of John Jay, have made extraordinary contributions to our community, state and country.

The Homestead has been a state park since the 1950s when the county purchased the property and turned it over to the state. Ms. Ross, who is married to Stuart Ross and has three children, Eliza, Will and Nathaniel, moved with her family to Woods Bridge Road in Katonah in 1987. Their home is across the road from the Homestead, on property that was once part of the Jay farm.

Ms. Ross became involved in the Homestead through her friend Louise Talbot, attending lectures and luncheons there. Soon Ms. Ross became more involved, and she was invited onto the board in 1989. She served as president from 1998-2004, when she became the executive director.

During her time at the Homestead, Ms. Ross brought the Country Fair and the Barn Dance to prominence, drawing thousands of people to the Homestead in September for music, food, crafts, animal events and more, including fanciful fun like Robinson’s Pig Races, which are a family favorite every year. In partnership with the state, Ms. Ross presided over the development of the education program.

Along with the barn dance and educational programs, the Homestead now hosts history mini-camps, the Goodhue Lecture series, the Independence Day Fair and the John Jay Lecture series. It offers a beekeeping school, farm market, summer kitchen and Heritage Egg Co-op among its many programs. The barn renovation brought to life a 2,500-square-foot facility housing a visitor center that includes a welcoming area, exhibits and orientation stations.

We congratulate Ms. Ross on her extraordinary service.

All proceeds from Saturday’s event will benefit the Homestead’s continued role as a vital community resource through its educational programming and outdoor recreational space. For more information, call 232-8119 or visit johnjayhomestead.org.


Read more local coverage of your hometown in this week’s issue of the The Record-Review. Newsstand copies are available at several locations listed above, or subscribe today for convenient home delivery.

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NEWSSTAND LOCATIONS

Pound Ridge/Scotts Corners

  1. Scotts Corner Market – Trinity Corners Shopping Center;  55 Westchester Avenue

  2. Pound Ridge Sunoco — 66 Westchester Avenue    

  3. Sam Parker Country Market — 257 Westchester Avenue    


Bedford Village

  1. Bedford Rexall Pharmacy — Hunting Ridge Mall; 424 Old Post Road  

  2. Village Green Deli — Village Green; Routes 22 and 172    

  3. Bedford Shell — Routes 22 and 172 (at blinking light); 848 So. Bedford Road

  4. Village Service Center —193 Pound Ridge Road (at Long Ridge Road intersection)    


Bedford Hills

  1. Bedford Hills Deli – 7 Babbitt Road    

  2. Bueti’s Deli – 526 Bedford Road (Route 117)


Katonah

  1. NoKA Joe’s – 25 Katonah Avenue    

  2. Steger’s Paper Mill – 89 Katonah Avenue    

  3. Katonah Pharmacy – Katonah Shopping Center; 294 Katonah Avenue   

  4. Bagel Shoppe – Katonah Shopping Center; 280 Katonah Avenue    

  5. Katonah Sunoco – 105 Bedford Road


Mount Kisco

  1. Teamo/Mt. Kisco News – 239 Main Street    


Cross River

  1. Bagel Boys Café – Cross River Shopping Center; Routes 121 and 35    

  2. Cross River Shell Station – Route 35    

  3. Cameron’s Deli –  890 Route 35    

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