The Examiner

P’ville School Board Nears Completion of Work on $46.3M Budget

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The Pleasantville Board of Education was overwhelmingly receptive to the $46.3 million 2013-14 budget that school administrators presented last week.

The presentation during the April 2 board meeting revealed that officials intend to present a budget to taxpayers that will be under the state imposed tax cap. Currently, the proposed tax levy increase would be 2.6 percent. The maximum allowable increase is 2.76 percent. District officials did not announce what next year’s tax rate increase would be.

At previous meetings, trustees have expressed optimism that the district could maintain its programs while remaining under the tax cap. That sentiment continued last week.

“It’s a good, reasonable budget at this point,” Trustee Louis Conte said.

Board member Emily Rubin Persons added that she thought the budget was conservative and well thought out resulting in a minimal loss of positions.

At this point, the spending plan calls for the reduction of one first-grade teacher. Additionally, the district would cut four teaching assistants and 10 aides for next year.

Though losing one teacher will result in larger classes for first-graders, Superintendent of Schools Mary Fox-Alter said class size would still be comparable with other schools in the region.

This year’s six kindergarten sections that would move on to first grade next year have about 18 students per class. With one less section, enrollment in each first-grade class would increase to about 22 children.

Of the nine other schools in the area that district officials chose to compare with Pleasantville, class size ranges from 19 to 24 students. Maximum class size outlined in the current teacher’s contract is 25 students per class for first grade.

The reduction of one teacher would shed $90,000 from the proposed budget. Despite the move, board members emphasized it would not result in program changes or loss.

“You’re preserving programs, and if you look at some of the things, not only are we preserving things but we’ve added some things in a sense,” Board Vice President Shane McGaffey said. “Because this year there’s creative writing, there’s journalism so there has been some improvements and we’re preserving those improvements.”

Fox-Alter said during the meeting that an unexpected addition of $350,000 in state aid helped to prevent additional teacher cuts. She and Business Administrator David Quattrocchi also recommended the district decrease the use of its appropriated fund balance by $500,000, from this year’s $1.8 million to $1.3 in 2013-14. Board members were receptive to that recommendation.

“It’s certainly better than I’d anticipated back in January when we started all this discussion so I think it’s great,” Board President Lois Winkler said.

McGaffey noted that with the additional state aid and the use of fund balance, the district would continue to provide top-notch education

“I’ll be able to sleep tonight,” McGaffey added.


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