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Pleasantville Shares School Budget Proposal, Considers Capital Projects

Proposed school budget is below the state-mandated tax cap.

A budget proposal shared with the community and board of education at Tuesday night represents a 1 percent increase over the total budgeted spending for the current academic year.

If adopted as is by the board on April 17, Pleasantville residents will vote on the $45,245,331 figure on May 15.

The proposal did not differ from what administrators as a preliminary breakdown, though Assistant Superintendent for Business David Quattrocchi explained many of the line items in a detailed presentation during Tuesday's meeting.

"The 2012-13 proposed budget that we are discussing tonight is based upon board input from the last meeting," said Mary Fox Alter,  superintendent.

In the presentation, Fox-Alter reported the proposed 2012-13 budget will extend the Singapore Math program to the sixth grade and bring additional technology opportunities to the district—including a media arts lab in the high school and Smartboards in fifth grade classrooms.

She said a nine-period schedule will be in effect for and high school students next year, however no additional staff will be needed. Instead, Fox-Alter said the district is "using efficiencies" to create more flexibility for students.

The overalls certified full-time equivalent staffers will increase to 210.3 versus this year's 206.5, at a cost of $18,961,700 in salaries—$77,236 more than this year's budget.

District resident and second grade teacher Eileen Prizeman said she was against the proposed elimination of one fourth grade section.

She noted when cuts are made, "the other teachers have to pick up the slack."

Prizeman said fourth grade teachers in particular have endured heavier loads as of late, with the state-mandated Annual Professional Performance Review and the burden of preparing students for their transition to middle school.

She also reminded the board about "a lot of concessions" teachers made when coming to a a few months back.

"We gave up a lot," she said. "To reduce our numbers by one...it puts more on the teachers that are there."

The $5,198,502 allotment for other staff members is a $64,555 increase for 2012-13.

If this budget is adopted, administrators predict the tax levy for residents will jump 1.71 percent next year, the equivalent of an approximately $193.20 annual increase on an $8,000 property tax assessment.

The budget total is approximately $200,000 underneath the district's maximum allowable tax levy (tax cap calculation), according to Quattrocchi.

Resident Charles Matteo asked the board about "long term programs," which Board President Lois Winkler said are made clear during the board's annual goal-setting and reflecting sessions. District Clerk Irene Powers confirmed the board will give an update on its annual goals at the end of the month.

Matteo also inquired about the "transparency" of the district's reserve funds, to which Winkler replied, "We are not trying to hide anything...it's not a secret."

She added the administration will offer another presentation about the district's reserve accounts in the coming months.

Coming up, the board will consider establishing a capital reserve fund that will be used to make facilities improvements throughout the district. Board members agreed the high school tennis courts should be a priority in this area, at an estimated $50,000 price tag.

Winkler said the tennis courts in particular are "a huge safety issue," while Fox-Alter added they are used by several teams and community members.

Other areas needing funding include the high school track and turf field, middle school cafeteria (air conditioning needed) and middle school stairs, among others.

"We are not doing all of these in one year," clarified Trustee Louis Conte, though Lisa Rusk, school attorney, confirmed district voters can approve the fund each year.

Vice President Thomas Exton said the total projects' estimated costs add up to "roughly $900,000."

Rusk said the district should outline its proposal for a capital fund by April 17 and the board agreed to hold a work session prior to its regular meeting to discuss the issue, particularly how it will affect the proposed budget.

Coming up:

  • April 17 — Adoption of budget by board
  • May 1 — Budget hearing
  • May 15 — Budget vote (and )

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