The Record-Review – The official newspaper of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York

 

Voters to decide on district’s $125M budget


By NATALIA BAAGE-LORD

Bedford Central residents will return to the polls on May 21 to vote on the district’s $125 million budget. It keeps all but one academic program and slashes nearly 20 staffing positions.

The administration has not shied away from saying that the 2013-14 budget was one of the most difficult it has assembled in recent history. The $125,057,000 budget stayed under the tax levy cap, at 3.37 percent, and is up 1.92 percent — nearly $2.36 million — from the current 2012-13 budget.

Approved by the school board at its April 17 meeting, the budget retains all of its programs except for its Academic Community for Educational Success module. In addition, the cuts forced the termination of 19.5 staff positions, for which a number of board members, including president Susan Elion Wollin, expressed remorse.

The administration began the process working with a larger budget of over $128 million, but implemented cuts to get to the district’s current budget level. While the upcoming budget was tough to shape, said assistant superintendent Mark Betz, the administration worked hard to ensure that students will receive the best education in the coming year. They said they attempted to implement the cuts as far away from the classroom as possible.

Some cuts included a reduction of clubs at the high school and middle school. The administration said that this was a good area to save money as the Fox Lane campus has approximately 140 clubs between the two schools.

The administration also reduced legal fees and its substitute teaching budget. Funding for field trips was slashed, as was the materials and supplies budgets. As the off-campus Academic Community for Educational Success program will close in June, the administration will also save on building rentals and utility fees. Moreover, savings will come from paying less in overtime wages and spending less on fuel consumption over the two-week December vacation.

While the cuts were said to be an unfortunate result of state-assigned unfunded mandates and rising pension costs and salaries, some of the most controversial items added back into the budget.

Earlier in the budget season, the administration had planned to eliminate the high school’s student assistance counselor position. After an hour-long public forum session in early April, at which many students, parents and community members spoke out against the layoff, the administration reinstated the position.

Another highly discussed issue was the plan to cut four of the five elementary school librarian positions. However, the administration received feedback from parents and staff members, asking them to rethink the value of a librarian on a young student’s mind. After weeks of debate, the administration announced that all five librarians will stay on board.

If the budget is twice defeated, the district will be forced into a contingency budget. At that time, the administration will need to make another $3.6 million worth of cuts. Those cuts will, unavoidably, include program reductions valued at approximately $2.5 million and the elimination of another 25 jobs.

Mr. Betz noted that if the budget is voted down, the district can also not go forward with its four-year instructional technology and technology infrastructure leases or its three-year technology maintenance lease. These leases were developed to assist the district in bolstering its technological needs.

In addition, if the budget is denied, the administration will have to halt its smaller, individual capital projects independent of the $31 million districtwide capital plan to be voted on in October. These projects include safety improvements at Fox Lane Middle School and septic upgrades at Bedford Village and West Patent elementary schools

All of the district’s five municipalities will see a tax increase during the 2013-14 school year. Mount Kisco will see the lowest rise, by 0.68 percent. New Castle will notice a growth of 2.3 percent, Pound Ridge of 3.07 percent, Bedford 4.56 percent and North Castle 5.51 percent.

On the ballot, alongside the budget, voters will also be electing a new member to the school board. Bedford Village resident Michael Solomon is the only candidate running for the seat that current member Erika Long will be vacating on June 30.

Ms. Long, while grateful for the opportunity to have served a three-year term, cited a lack of time as the main reason for her departure. She added that she is appreciative of board members who are able to provide continuity and shoulder more than a one-term commitment.

Mr. Solomon looks to bring his budget experience and background in finance to the board on July 1. As a municipal finance investment banker, Mr. Solomon works with local and state governments to solve budgetary problems and to fundraise for capital projects.

He said that he looks forward to bringing his insight on tax cap issues to Bedford Central. In 2008, he served on the governor’s property tax commission, where members examined budget history and analyzed ways to combat rising costs. The end result was the development of the tax cap.

Current board members Suzanne Grant and Jennifer Gerken are both running to keep their seats. All three — Ms. Grant, Ms. Gerken and Mr. Solomon — are running uncontested. In their next three-year terms, Ms. Grant said that she would like to create more dialogue with New York State about unfunded mandates. Ms. Gerken said that she looks forward to continuing work on the district’s capital plan. Mr. Solomon said that he wants to looks for ways to create long-term sustainability in future budget seasons.

A comprehensive budget brochure was mailed out to the public last week and was also uploaded onto the district’s website. Mr. Betz encourages the public to call him with budget questions prior to the vote or to call district clerk Carole LaColla with voting questions.

Voting will take place on Tuesday, May 21, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., at all five elementary schools. Registered voters are asked to vote at their respective hometown schools. Absentee ballots are no longer available. For more information, visit the district website at www.bcsdny.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.

HOME     |     SUBSCRIBE     |     ADVERTISE     |     NEWSROOM     |     CONTACT

The official newspaper of the towns of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York

NEWSSTAND LOCATIONS

Single copies $1.00

ARCHIVES

May 17, 2013

‘Pops, Patriots and Fireworks’

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    

The Record-Review is available

at these locations:

Subscribe

The Record-Review is delivered to subscribers’ mailboxes every Friday
for only $40 per year.
Click here to subscribe
or to purchase a gift subscription.

Advertise

  1. View our Media Kit for deadlines, specs and circulation information.

  2. Special Sections

  3. Index to Advertisers

  4. Contact your Ad Representative.

Take part

Submit story ideas, announcements, press releases, letters to the editor, and photos.

The Record-Review  • 16 The Parkway, Katonah, NY 10536  • (914) 244-0533 • Fax (914) 244-0537 • www.record-review.com

©2013 THE RECORD, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. REPRODUCTION IN WHOLE OR IN PART IS FORBIDDEN WITHOUT PUBLISHER’S WRITTEN PERMISSION.


Jump to: THE SCARSDALE INQUIRER or THE RIVERTOWNS ENTERPRISE

HOME     |     SUBSCRIBE     |     ADVERTISE     |     NEWSROOM     |     CONTACT