White Plains Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joseph Ricca has proposed a $226,285,980 2019-20 preliminary budget that would maintain all student programs and stay within the state-mandated property tax cap.
Ricca also announced at the March 11 Board of Education meeting he was seeking to spend some of the revenues saved in a capital projects fund and also ask voters to allow the district to create another capital projects fund.
Ricca’s budget is seeking to increase spending by 3.5 percent over the current year’s $218,593,020 ledger. The tax levy would increase by 3.4 percent, which is within the tax cap.
Ricca said Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing that state Foundation Aid for the district would be $65,946, an increase of only .48 percent over the current year.
Ricca is proposing a series of staffing increases, such as another 1.2 earth science teachers at the Highlands Middle School; an additional English Language Acquisition teacher at Highlands; an additional half of a full-time equivalent of math specialist position in each of the district’s five elementary schools to bring the total to the equivalent of one full-time specialist at each school and one full-time maintenance mechanic at the high school.
Some factors affecting next year’s budget are anticipated increases in the district’s contributions to employee pension funds and an expected 4.4 percent hike in employee health insurance costs, Ricca said.
When school district residents go to the polls in May they will vote on three propositions.
The first proposition is seeking approval of next year’s proposed budget.
The second proposition is seeking to allow the district to spend from its capital reserve fund, the creation of which was previously approved by voters. Ricca said the district anticipates that by the end of the current school year on June 30 there will be $15.89 million in the fund. The district is asking voters to allow it to take up to $6.4 million from the fund to pay for projects at Highlands Middle School and the high school. “It’s essentially a savings account,” Ricca said. By using the capital reserve the district can pay for capital projects “without going to bond,” he said.
The middle school projects include work on the courtyard, new windows, lintels, repointing and lighting ($1.3 million) and replacement of the artificial field at Parker Stadium ($1.02 million).
The proposed capital projects at the high school include a new security vestibule ($175,000), replacement of the electric service ($1.5million), pool building improvements ($890,000), additional funding for the intercom public address system ($425,000) and artificial turf and drainage improvements ($1million).
Proposition three would allow the district to create a new capital reserve that over a 10 year period would be funded up to $25 million.
Passage of propositions two and three would not result in tax increases, Ricca said.
Trustee James Hricay said the superintendent’s budget was “a thoughtful spending plan.”
After two scheduled workshops on the spending plan the Board of Education is scheduled to approve next year’s budget on April 8. A public budget hearing is slated for May 13.
The public vote on the budget and for Board of Education trustees is scheduled for May 21.
Two School Board Seats Are Up for Election, Candidate Applications Available
The Annual White Plains Board of Education Budget Vote and Election will take place on Tuesday, May 21, 12 to 9 p.m., at six voting districts. Two Board seats will be up for election, each with a three-year term of office, beginning July 1, 2019.
Candidates must be United States citizens, 18 years of age or more and residents of White Plains for at least one year. Petitions are available from Michele Schoenfeld, District Clerk, at 5 Homeside Lane. They must be signed by 100 qualified voters and returned by May 1.
Registration, for qualified voters new to the City, or those who are not registered to vote in general elections, will take place on Saturday, May 4, 12 to 5 p.m. at Mamaroneck Avenue School, Nosband Avenue. A resident who has moved within White Plains during the last year may also change his/her voting address at that time.
Absentee ballots will be available by application to the District Clerk, for any voter who will not be in White Plains during the hours of the election.