District officials in Greenburgh, Mamaroneck and Pleasantville are offering 2007-8 budget proposals that are leaner than those rejected last month.
Revamping the original budgets in response to community concerns required eliminating a range of services and items, officials said. For example, Mamaroneck restructured administrative costs by trimming five proposed content directors, Greenburgh cut back hours at the high school fitness center, and Pleasantville dropped plans to buy computer software and eliminated an existing third-grade violin program.
?These are not easy decisions,? said William Ultan, the school board president in Pleasantville. ?Everything we cut has impact.?
The proposals include:
¶ Reducing spending in the Mamaroneck Union Free School District by $1.57 million by dropping plans to hire five administrators and four elementary school teachers (deemed unnecessary based on recent enrollment figures) and scaling back plans to increase security at the high school. The new proposed budget is $110.41 million. The changes reduced the proposed tax increase to 4.79 percent ? the lowest in more than a decade and below the county average ? from 6.45 percent.
¶ Reducing spending in the Pleasantville Union Free School District by $160,586, putting the proposed budget at $38.7 million. Cutting costs on supplies and conferences, and dropping plans for air-conditioning, new software and after-school supervision at the high school fitness center decreased the budget, which proposes a 3.16 percent tax increase. In March, voters narrowly approved a $37 million bond to expand the high school.
¶ Offering Greenburgh Central School District No. 7 voters a revised budget of $53.94 million but also a separate bond proposition to pay $370,000 for high school summer school, a librarian, a guidance counselor and a receptionist position that was cut from the original proposal. Stephen Draper, the district?s assistant superintendent for business services, said that separating those items should reduce the ?sticker shock? of the original proposal while allowing supporters to vote for those items separately. The budget calls for a 6.85 percent tax increase.
School leaders are offering the revised plans with mixed feelings, since they proposed earlier budgets that were rejected. But they are aggressively promoting approval this time to stave off ceding control of spending to the state.
Under state law, any school district whose budget is rejected on Tuesday must adopt a contingency spending plan with state-imposed caps and cuts. The ramifications of contingency budgets in Westchester could be large.
The Mamaroneck district, for example, would be forced to cut an additional $2.6 million, which would most likely lead to increased class sizes and reductions in staff sizes, capital improvements and extracurricular activities, said Cecilia Absher, president of the Board of Education.
There simply is not that much left to give, she said.
?We?re comfortable that this budget doesn?t impact the core educational components for kids,? Ms. Absher said. ?Yet we do have to be mindful that we do operate relatively tightly. So there is always a little part of me that gets concerned that unexpected situations will occur.?
Supporters of the budget in all three towns have waged public information campaigns and organized phone banks to rally the vote. In turn, some residents say they are more likely to approve the budgets this time.
Stacy Caffrey of Larchmont, who will have three children in Mamaroneck schools next fall, said she voted no last month because the budget did not reflect what most residents wanted.
?We collectively, as a community, believed that we have been viewed by the school district as a rubber stamp,? Ms. Caffrey said. Nonetheless, she said she was well aware of the urgency in approving the revised budget.
?We got our point across,? she said. ?This budget needs to pass.?