Today Ridgewood Drive resident Bob Zahm, former member of the Rye Board of Education, speaks out on the upcoming budget vote.
(PHOTO: Bob Zahm at a joint Board of Ed and City Council meeting in 2010.)
By Bob Zahm
Have you seen the list? You know, the list of Elementary school people who we’re told will lose their jobs if the proposed Rye Schools budget fails? The list has been circulated on the PTO mailing lists. I’d hate to see teachers lose their jobs. And what would the children say if they thought that their teacher was going to be axed? I understand looking out for our teachers and our children, but is this a real possibility or just another scare tactic?
To be a real possibility and not just a scare tactic, there’d have to be no other options for the schools if the budget fails. Right off the bat, the School Board has the option of re-submitting the same budget to a second vote. The Board has said that they don’t want to do that, but it is an option if they really believe the proposed budget is the best possible.
Instead of submitting the same budget a second time, the Board could revise the proposed budget with non-academic cuts and other sources of revenue. Both exist. For example, more of the $11.3 million in reserves than currently proposed could be used. While unsustainable, the Board has built up reserves for just such emergencies like a failed budget vote, unplanned enrollment growth, etc.
What about non-academic cuts? $1.2 million is planned for athletics which, in the proposed budget has been treated like a sacred cow. There’s the $126,000 in planned increases to facilities spending. There is also a several hundred thousand dollar increase to technology that could be reduced.
So, given that there are plenty of non-academic areas for reductions as well as another major source of funding, the circulation of a list of teachers to be fired should the budget fail is just another scare tactic. And a pretty nasty one at that.
Hopefully in the future, instead of scare tactics, those who are concerned about retaining teachers will direct their concerns to the Board along with the realistic alternatives that exist.