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Tuesday, August 9, 2022
Home Schools de Frondeville: Say No Twice to School Budget

de Frondeville: Say No Twice to School Budget

Bertrand

By Bertrand de Frondeville, Rye resident

RCSD 2015-16 Budget: IMMEDIATE SAVINGS of $5-6 Million, with ZERO impact, or twice the “cap override” for our first ever budget decrease. SAY NO, twice if necessary!

Looking beyond the scare tactics and misinformation from Board or Administration such as “Surging Enrollment”, “Recent Conservatism” or “Maximum Class Sizes” (especially in ES), we list simple immediate savings which combine to $5-6 million, well over the “cap override”, all without reducing staff or compensations or any Program, even “gut courses” or sports.

1)      Litigations: Settle all logically! Now that Dr. Alvarez has clarified that teachers shall not proctor their own students during state tests, it is time to reinstate the teachers who “cheated”, a malady not unique to Rye. Remember the $6.5 million RCSD wasted by the District for zero result on the Osborn Homes tax certiorari litigation!

2)      Excise the systematic $2 to $4 million worth of Excess Margins ($3.2M last year): This is truly our own money sitting idle. State Comptroller Di Napoli has called these Excess Margins ILLEGAL whenever they boost Unassigned Reserves beyond the legal maximum 4% of expenses, more than enough to meet any contingency and to maintain the District’s Aaa bond rating, But the best way to make them clear to all is to add two columns (there is room) and provide for major components at least 2013-14 Budget and Actual, 2014-15 Budget and YTD Estimated, 2015-16 Budget, from left to right.

3)      Optimize Dedicated Reserves or Assigned Fund Balances (ERS/TRS, Tax Certiorari, etc.) in light of history and Rye City practices. For example, the Actual-Audited Tax Certiorary Reserve at year-end has averaged $5.5 million over the past 13 years, only falling twice below $4.9M ($4.6M and $4.7M) since 2003, and currently $5M. This overly padded cushion could be trimmed by $2 million in these times of low inflation.

4)      Reform Special Ed: Why is SpEd surging 44% from last year? A June 2013 independent study found our approach much costlier and less effective than more standard practices. Indeed, p.118 of the 2014-15 Budget Book shows RCSD Special Ed $59,108 unit cost per student 60% higher than the peer districts’ $36,870, and TWICE the $30,207 average of all NYS districts. The new Budget Book shows these excesses reduced to 38% and 74%, but these 2012-13 data would rise again hugely on the 44% increase. Cutting that increase to a generous 10% would save $950,000 with better service to special students.

In short, Rye taxpayers (parents or not) should refuse to become accomplices and SAY NO:

  • About $5-6 million in easy and immediate savings stem from the above 4 items alone, without affecting staff, program and sports, or class sizes;
  • Or twice the $3M “cap override”, and just over the $4.8M “contingency cuts”;
  • This savings package, presented to the District over a month ago and ignored, gives us a budget decrease for the first time in history, or at least a flat one in line with a total enrollment which is flat rather than “surging”.
  •  There is absolutely no reason for any taxpayer to become an accomplice in any cap override. We could save a costly a second vote, and demand better priorities from a District which recommends cutting Programs 6%, 11 times Adm.. 0.55%!
  1. Thank you for calling out the Special Ed Budget. Something is seriously wrong and it will only get worse. It is simply not working. Currently approximately 40 Rye families (a growing percentage of special education student population) have had to send their children to out of district schools for their education. Many if not most of these children have an IEP (an Individualized Education Plan)! This means that the RCSD has recognized that these children require remediation. These families have had to send their children to either Windward or Eagle Hill for remediation and education after they realize that RCSD’s services have been ineffective. Windward and Eagle Hill are special education schools that provide what Rye should be providing given its budget. These schools are extremely costly and paid for solely by the family. Should a family seek tuition assistance from Rye, they are met with both indifference and/or the might of RCSD attorneys who seek to tear families apart financially and emotionally through the farse called “Due Process.” Why? Why can’t there be a tuition assistance program when Rye cannot provide adequate services or when the services simply are not effective? That would be cheaper than having the taxpayers of Rye pay legal fees that have nothing to do with educating children. Recently, however, families are starting to win cases and it will be all of Rye’s problem when more of those cases start piling up. I sincerely hope that the BOE reconsiders it heavy handed litigation strategy with respect to parentally placed out of district children. The families are doing what is necessary (we are not talking about tony private school here) for their children and making serious financial adjustments to do so. Too bad that RCSD is only interested hiding their inability to remediate or educate special education students. I would like to be part of the solution and sincerely hope that Dr. Alverez or the BOE reaches out to these parents (I am one of them) to come to a mutually agreeable answer. Its long past time. Thank you.

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