On Tuesday May 15 voters will go to the polls to vote for their local school budgets and for candidates for the school board. In Scarsdale, voting will be at the Scarsdale Middle School from 7 am to 9 pm. In Edgemont, the vote takes place in the old gymnasium of Edgemont High School from 6 am to 9 pm. The entire community is encouraged to vote.
In Scarsdale, the proposed school budget for 2012-13 is $141,790,579 which is a 2.42% increase over last year. The tax levy will go up by 2.89% and complies with the state mandated 2% cap as certain items, including capital improvements, are exempt. For Scarsdale residents, the tax rate will go up 3.39% and for those in Mamaroneck the increase will be 2.22%.
Several factors contributed to the Board’s ability to keep increases to a minimum while maintaining the current educational program:
- Surpluses from the energy line in the 2011-12 budget were passed into 2012-13 as a warm winter reduced heating costs.
- The Board opted to reduce the amount of reserves for energy and health insurance.
- $6.3 million from the undesignated fund balance is being applied to the 2012-13 budget, though the district will still continue to maintain reserves at 4% of the budget as stipulated by the state.
- Enrollment in the elementary schools is expected to decline, and the demographer has projected that 60 fewer students will enter kindergarten in 2012-13, thus reducing the need for elementary school teachers.
Despite economic pressure, the Board was able to fund some new initiatives such as the Center for Innovation, to explore the role of technology in transforming education. Also included in the budget is the repurposing of the SHS auto shop into a satellite cafeteria and group learning space. In response to input from the SHS PTA, two more teachers at the high school have been included to alleviate overcrowding in math and social studies classes.
Maintenance and renovations of the district’s schools will include:
- A new ventilation system in the Edgewood gym
- Asbestos removal and new lighting and rigging in the Heathcote auditorium
- New stairway at the Middle School to comply with safety regulations
- Replacing the columns and the heating system at CHOICE
- An emergency generator at the high school
- Conversion of the high school auto shop into a satellite cafeteria and small group instruction space.
In Edgemont the 2012-13 school budget is $50,149,261 which is just a .58% increase over 2011-12, the lowest budget increase in Edgemont’s history. However due to the decrease in the tax base of almost $1 million, taxes will rise by 3.35%.
In order to comply with the tax cap and rein in costs, the Board of Education opted to cut staff and programs such as the 6th and 9th grade outdoor education program and some classes at the high school, but the Board is hopeful that the PTA and School Foundation can supply funds to permit the continuation of a modified 6th grade camp, the circus program, library resources, guest speakers and technology.
At the elementary school level 1.5 full time employees were cut in response to projected enrollment declines. Perhaps the most painful cuts will be at Edgemont High School where 5.15 full time teaching positions will be eliminated. In order to reduce staffing needs, changes were made to the high school curriculum to consolidate or eliminate class offerings in Science, English, Social Studies and Spanish.
In some cases, class sizes will exceed district guidelines for 22 students for grades K-2, 24 students in grades 3-5 and 25 students in grades 7-12.
Due to the establishment of a new special education class, the district will save about $250,000 for out of district education and transportation. And though the buildings and grounds budget has been cut by almost 6%, new windows will be installed at Seely Place, and if approved, $120,000 from this year’s budget will be used to remove and replace the underground oil take at the Greenville School.
Since the budgets in both Edgemont and Scarsdale call for a tax levy increase within the state’s tax cap, the budgets will require approval by 50% plus 1 vote to pass. If a budget fails to receive the necessary support, there will be a revote on the same or a revised budget. If the second vote fails, the district would be forced to adopt a contingency budget with no increase in the tax levy over the prior year, forcing layoffs, program cuts and more.
Also on the ballot will be the election of School Board members in both districts.
In Scarsdale, Lewis Leone, Jr. and Mary Beth Gose have both been nominated by the School Board Nominating Committee to serve second two-year terms. In Edgemont two newcomers received the nomination from the Edgemont School Board Nominating Committee. On the ballot will be Jennifer Darger and Brian Yarrington. In both districts, the nominated candidates are running unopposed.
Scarsdale: 7 am to 9 pm at the Scarsdale Middle School
Edgemont: 6 am to 9 pm in the old gymnasium of Edgemont High School