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Facing Taxpayer Backlash, New Rochelle School Board Orders Superintendent to Cut 2009-10 Spending Plans

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Facing Taxpayer Backlash, New Rochelle School Board Orders Superintendent to Cut 2009-10 Spending Plans

March 27, 2009 - 18:35
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Sources close to the ongoing budget discussions within the New Rochelle School District have told Talk of the Sound that the School Board has ordered Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak to get out his carving knife and start making cuts to his proposed $8 million spending increase in the wake of widespread anger over the District's proposed $230 million budget which many believe will come with a 6.9% tax increase -- possibly higher.

In what was described as an animated, heated discussion, school board members made clear they expect the district to take a hard line on district spending and in instructions given to the district's three-person labor negotiations team; Assistant Superintendents John Quinn and Peg Pecunia and Le Fantôme de l'board, sometimes known as Jeffrey Kehl, the outside counsel for the school district. Some Board members who initially supported the District's 3.75% budget increase have now withdrawn that support as they have come to recognize the depth of concern among voters over increased property taxes at a time when more Americans are out of work that any time in U.S. history.

Asked about his recent public request to the board that the presentation of a final budget, originally scheduled for next week, be pushed back to April 21st, Organisciak told Talk of the Sound he is hoping there might be more money forthcoming from Albany and that the District needed time to make "adjustments" to the budget in light of public comment made to the school board over the past few weeks at the so-called "budget workshops".

As we have reported previously, many New Rochelle residents have come before the board to criticize the district for seeking an increase of over $8 million in the school budget at a time when the rest of the community is experiencing significant financial pain.

More importantly, board members have come around to a point made repeatedly at Talk of the Sound since the day the budget was first released: the key assumption driving 75% of the district's revenue projections -- that assessed value of property will decline at the same 1.4% rate as last year - is not supported by any of the available data. Quite the contrary, City Finance Commissioner Howard Ratner has told Talk of the Sound the City is projecting a decline of 3%. Cities like White Plains are reporting a 300% increase in appeals for property assessments and housing values in Westchester have plummeted over the past 12 months.

There are 2 Comments

Seeing is believing. When will these cuts in the budget be made?

good. my sincere congratulations to a board that is finally getting it. surely they have not only read the voice of the community, but also what is going on in other westchester and rockland communities. for all naysayers and disbelievers, lets suspend that until we see the outcome -- and foremost among the outcome will be where the cuts are made. i believe our superintendent should show good faith by turning down his increase; actually better yet, take a salary cut as many of his colleagues have.

now my wiah list comprises an unmistakeable and visible collective bargain with the teachers and principles union. it is about time that people realize that they have the most generous contract-- money, benefits, working hours, retirement pension health and welfare, job security, etc.... it has nothing to do with what executives on wall street get or for that matter, their skills and importance to the community. they simply stand out like a sore thumb in the proportionality of a civic budget and contribute extensively to the hard times we all face. Yet, these are good and decent people whose job reaponsibliites have grown over the years as parenting has fell, classroom sizes and complexity have grown, etc...... no doubt about this, but the job does not have the complexity of a manager in most cases who make less (head of a non-profit corporate division for example, or the risks of a first provider. don't blame them though, blame administrators who saddle them with inadequate support, boards who fail to see where we are heading as a society, uncaring parents or guardians, grasping union heads, and yes, unfunded State mandates which are often plain silly and always unhelpful by nature. we need to grown this infrastructure as well and most parents must understand the relationship of a strong district to the success of a city and the city and board must face the cold facts that we seem to lack a long term growth plan. how many more kids can you squeeze into the highschool, ward, trinity, etc. and richard oganisiciak is hardly up to running this district as evident by his foolish statement saying that our district is too "diverse" to be compared to scarsdale but rather we need to be compared to other districts such as white plains. what a defeatist and nonsensical statmenet and how it must have stung the administrators who know better. finally we have a well documented list of such administrators, principals and staff chiefs who are either over their heads, patronage appointees, or in a recent case, involved with a significant mount vernon scandal. the negative publicity grows. i wonder whether the city and council will ever open their eyes to the relationship between a viable, progressive and functioning district. frankly, i don't see it out of chuck strome, noam bramson resorts to the separation incurred by election and the council has never to my knowledge uttered a word either way. it is too emotional (parents lose pespective when they think of the word, "kids" while politicians are afraid to tackle it given the strength of unions and their voting and contributory powers.

so, good for you ms deutsch and your colleagues. this could not have been an easy step and you deserve credit and trust that you are seeing more than the eye beheld merely weeks earlier.

warren gross

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