The Rye Neck Union Free School District superintendent presented a proposed budget that would add new instructional staff positions while decreasing overall spending.
With a $233,985 decrease in spending, the school district’s preliminary budget for the 2017-2018 school year will still allocate money to add 6.1 full-time positions and also preserve a number of current programs, including full-time kindergarten and the district’s arts, music and athletic programs.
Throughout the district, there would be 2.7 additional full-time teaching positions and 3.4 teaching assistant positions added.
Additionally, the $40.1 million proposed budget will fund an expansion of the district’s STEAM program, which incorporates a mix of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics concepts into one lesson.
In drafting the 2017-2018 budget proposal, the school administration has added the full-time positions as a way to keep up with the growing enrollment rate within several of its schools.
The enrollment rate for the upcoming school year is projected to increase by 0.31 percent, which is not at all a problem, according to Superintendent of Schools Dr. Barbara Ferraro. “That’s always on our minds when coming up with the budget, so we’re prepared,” she said, adding that the enrollment rate has increased by 4 percent in just the last two years.
Ferraro told the Review that while unexpected changes in enrollment can happen at any time, the additional staffing allocated in the proposed budget will prepare the school district if any sudden increase occurs.
With roughly 1,637 students expected to be enrolled for the upcoming school year, that’s just five more than last year.
The 2017-2018 budget also comes with added significance, as the district will remain under the state-mandated tax cap of 1.26 percent for the sixth year in a row with approximately $1.1 million in exclusions.
The estimated tax levy will increase by 0.72 percent. The estimated property tax rate increase for property owners living in the town of Rye is 0.35 percent; it’s 4.74 percent for those in the city of Rye. The tax levy is the total amount of property taxes raised annually by the district.
As a result of spending for several renovations and capital projects, the school district currently has approximately $13 million in outstanding debt. In 2014, voters passed a $7.1 million capital bond and a $1.47 million districtwide security bond.
Ferraro said there aren’t any plans for capital improvements for this upcoming year as of yet.
However, she said the school district is expecting to introduce a bond for improvements later this year.
Last October, voters rejected a $35.5 million proposal for districtwide repairs put forth by the former superintendent of the school district, Dr. Peter Mustich. Ferraro took over the post in January after Mustich retired.
The budget is expected to be voted on for adoption by the Rye Neck Board of Education on April 19. The adopted budget will then be voted on by the public on May 16.
Since the budget is proposed under the tax cap, it would require only a simple majority of voter approval to pass.