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Home Schools Rye Schools Board of Ed Friends of Rye City School District on Tuesday's Budget Vote

Friends of Rye City School District on Tuesday’s Budget Vote

The Friends of Rye City School DIstrict are circulating the following chart and letters to the edior in support of Tuesday's school budet vote.

Voting takes place Tuesday, May 20, 2014 from 7am to 9pm in the Rye Middle School gym.

Friends of Rye City School District logo

Fiscal Responsibility.  Below is a chart demonstrating the district’s fiscal responsibility compared to our peer districts.  Our property values have increased more than any other community in Westchester and our school rankings remain exceptional.  Use this chart to help your friends and neighbors understand Rye City Schools are providing a great education for our children at an excellent comparative cost!


Letter to the Editor from Betsy and Chris Graseck

Dear Editor:

My husband and I have been citizens of Rye since 2002. Our two children are enjoying a terrific education at Osborn School.

We encourage other citizens of Rye to join us to support the Rye City schools and vote YES for the School Budget on May 20.

The Vote will take place in the Rye Middle School Gym from 7am – 9pm on May 20.

Away? Pick up an Absentee ballot from the Rye City School District Clerk, Elaine Cuglietto at 411 Theodore Fremd Ave, Suite 100S by May 13

Why Vote?  The values of our homes are tied to the quality of the school system.  Rye schools are ranked #2 in NY State and #4 in the nation among public schools! Pretty awesome!  This shows in our home values which are up ~5% in the past year.

Why Do Rye Schools Need More Funding? Two main reasons… More students and less student budget.

Enrollment is up 518 students, or 18% since 2004, of which, 100 were new to the school district in the last 12 months.  Second, the budget available to use on students is declining.  This is because NY state requires Rye and other towns to pay for rising healthcare (+4.75% y/y) and pension costs (+9% and +2% y/y). We need a larger budget to maintain current class size and programs.

What's the Ask? Rye citizens are being asked to support a $79m school budget, up ~6% from last year.How will the increase be funded? Three primary components: a tax increase of 1.6% (~$1.1m, or $172 per year for a home worth $1.6m), a utility tax of ~$0.9m, and use of reserves.

What's the Utility Tax? It more broadly distributes the cost of the school system among the entire Rye population: homeowners, renters and businesses.

Why should I vote YES? First, better schools support higher home prices, likely your largest, if not one of your largest, asset.  Second, if the vote does not pass, we will see much larger class sizes (already high in Osborn at 22 kids per class in some grades… Going higher to 28-30 kids per class is simply unacceptable) and cuts to valuable programming in the arts, athletics, language and other disciplines which are critical skills for tomorrow's leaders.  Voting YES is the single best way to keep Rye's class sizes stable and programs in-tact.

Why Does My Vote Matter? Less than 20% of registered voters cast a ballot in May last year.  The children of Rye can't afford apathy. We welcome you to join us in voting YES for Rye City school districts' 2014 budget.

Betsy and Chris Graseck


Letter to the Editor from Jamie Jensen

Dear Editor:

I have lived in Rye with my husband, and two children since 2010.   Despite the high taxes and over-burdened, pubic systems here in Westchester– I don’t regret our decision at all.   Rye is a wonderful community – and the big reason it is so wonderful is because of its excellent public schools.  

I have had the opportunity as an active volunteer and co-president of the RMS PO to get to know the leaders on our MS/HS campus   Pat Taylor and Ann Edwards are both tough and fair.  They have high standards for our kids and our teachers.   And most importantly, they are always learning.   They have taken on the new challenges mandated on by the state with aplomb and continue to innovate despite continued cuts to their building budgets.  To me the best kind of leaders are those who are always looking to do better while rising to new challenges.  They are building programs to deal with budget shortfalls in ways that say, we care about a balanced curriculum and we care that we help educate your children to be both scholars and  citizens of the world.   Their recent efforts to improve STEM (Science Teaching Engineering and Mathematics) and the foreign language programs are just two fine examples.   I can speak from experience that there is no complacency in our district’s leadership.

Our teachers – who justifiably feel the burdens of unfunded mandates, in particular the statewide implementation of the teacher evaluation system, continue to deliver and do so with both professionalism and compassion.  Like many of you, my kids and I have our favorite teachers but it is nice to know we have so many favorites to list here in Rye.  

I sometimes get frustrated with the seemingly slow pace of policy and personnel decisions, and worry that we could be doing a better job communicating to both our teachers and the broader public.  Parents wish things could be more transparent and perhaps expeditious.  Unfortunately, we aren't privy to the legal and other privacy restrictions put upon a Board of Education who must govern in a public system.   I have been asking tough questions when necessary and I have been patient  because I have no doubt that our superintendent and Board members are working on our children’s behalf.  

The superintendent and our board members understand the critical role that accountability plays in running our excellent schools – they don’t back away from tough, often unpopular decisions when the health, safety and education of our children are at stake.  They do this even knowing that their decisions put them in the direct line of fire with individuals in the community.  I admire their forbearance. 

The sometimes mean-spirited and often I'll-informed comments regularly printed in the Rye Patch and other blogs should not distract our leaders from what matters.   They need to be focused on doing the business of education- supporting our schools, our teachers and by extension our families.   If you care about that, I encourage you to show up on May 20th and vote yes to the school budget.   Do it because it’s the right thing to do for our children and for our community.

Jamie Jensen
Rye, NY

Letter to the Editor from Heather Cabot Khemlani and Neeraj Khemlani

To The Editor:

As relative newcomers to Rye, we have found one of the sweetest and unexpected pleasures of living here is the short walk to Osborn School each morning, where a quick wave or smile makes us feel a part of something much bigger than ourselves. Even when it’s a harried race for the bell, we are reminded just how connected we are to our neighbors and how the public schools can unite us.

Like many of you, we relocated here for small class size, rigorous academics, and enrichment opportunities for our kids.  As US News and World Report and The Washington Post once again laud Rye High School as one of the top in the state and the nation, it reaffirms our decision to settle here. The most recent accolades come as the school district faces increasing pressure to do more with less. The school board and administration put forth a budget that preserves the staffing and programs we moved here to enjoy, all within the restrictive tax cap and while facing unfunded state mandates, rising pension and healthcare care costs and increasing enrollment.  It is a critical time to support the teachers and institutions that attracted so many of us to Rye. You can do this by turning out to vote for the school budget on May 20th. 

Despite the historic link between public schools and home values, school budget votes and board elections have not generated much turnout in our city.

Last May, according to the Friends of Rye City Schools, less than 20% of registered voters showed up at the polls. Let’s change that this year. 

And if you are a new resident, make sure you and your spouse are registered to vote. It only takes a few minutes to cast your ballot at Rye Middle School and in doing so, you will share in the responsibility of being a citizen of Rye.  It is a privilege to live here and each of us, even those who do not send children to the public schools, has a vested interest in maintaining and strengthening our quality schools and in turn, the community as a whole.

Thank you.

Heather Cabot Khemlani and Neeraj Khemlani
Walker Avenue


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