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By Bailey Hosfelt
Taxpayers can expect to see no tax increase in the 2022-23 proposed school budget for the White Plains City School District (WPCSD).
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joseph Ricca announced the good news at the WPCSD Board of Education (BOE) meeting on March 14, detailing the $244.8 million proposed budget that residents will cast their vote for on May 17.
“This year, we’re putting forward a budget that not only brings all the goals and objectives of our long-range and strategic plan but also brings with it no tax increase,” said Ricca, highlighting that it is a point of pride for the district.
With $14.1 million in Foundation Aid coming into the district through the New York State Education Department between now and 2024, Dr. Ricca said WPCSD will be fully funded by the 2023-24 academic year. Foundation Aid will go toward funding expenses such as transportation, building and instructional materials.
“We have said that if we were able to achieve full funding of Foundation Aid, we would do what we could to reduce the burden to the taxpayers,” Ricca said. “This year, we’re seeing historic dollars investing in education.”
In addition, because tax rates have gone down in White Plains, Ricca said some residents may actually see a tax reduction in 2022-23, depending on a taxpayer’s property taxes.
“It’s good news for the school district, the community and the City of White Plains, and it didn’t happen by accident,” Ricca said. “It happened through advocacy, smart planning and a Board of Education and leadership that have been stable and recognize how important it is to plan all the outcomes.”
Dr. Ann Vaccaro-Teich, Assistant Superintendent for Business and Operation, said the portion of the proposed budget supported by the district tax levy has gone down from 86 to 80 percent. The amount of the budget that is now being supported by state and federal dollars is up from 10 percent to 15.
“That is significant,” Vaccaro-Reich said.
Seventy-seven percent of the proposed budget’s expenditures are in programming, which Dr. Ricca said is exactly where the district wants to see the majority of its dollars distributed. The remaining portion of expenditures goes toward capital and administrative costs.
“[The majority of expenditures] should be touching children in classrooms, making sure that their experiences are robust and they have access to the highest-quality professionals who are going to support them,” Ricca said.
District taxpayers will vote on the 2022-23 proposed budget on Tuesday, May 17. Fifty percent plus one of the voters must vote to approve the proposed budget in order for it to pass.
If the proposed budget does not pass, the BOE has the opportunity to either reconfigure the budget or keep it the same before putting it back in front of voters for a second vote.
If the budget is unsuccessful after a second vote, the district will move to a contingency budget, which would account for a loss of about $1 million dollars.
Ricca said he is optimistic voters will be pleased with this year’s proposed budget and cast their vote in support.
Two BOE Seats Up for Election
Two BOE seats will also be up for election on May 17, each with a three-year term of office that begins on July 1.
Petitions are available from District Clerk Michele Schoenfeld at 5 Homeside Lane in White Plains. They must be signed by 100 qualified voters by April 30th.
New qualified voters to the city, or those who are not registered to vote in general elections, can register on April 30th from 12 to 3 p.m. at Mamaroneck Avenue School. Residents who have moved within White Plains during the last year can also change their voting address at that time.
Bailey has journalism experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties and New York City on topics related to LGBTQ+ issues, women’s rights, climate change, the environment, and local politics. They have been a full-time reporter with Examiner Media since July 2021. Read more details from Bailey’s bio here. Read Bailey’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/baileyhosfelt/