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You are here: Home Schools District Responds to Questions on the Proposed 2019-20 School Budget
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District Responds to Questions on the Proposed 2019-20 School Budget

LWVS3 4From left to right: Edgar McIntosh, Pam Fuehrer, Thomas Hagerman, Eric Rauschenbach, Leah Dembitzer, Drew Patrick and Stuart MatteyThe League of Women Voters of Scarsdale held a School Budget Information Session on Monday, March 4th. Members of both the District Administration and the Board of Education answered questions concerning the proposed budget. The 2019-20 school budget is now estimated at $160,782,597 which is a 1.86% increase over the prior year’s budget and will mean a 2.27% increase in the tax levy.

Here are some of the questions posed and responses from the administration:

What is the dollar amount of tax increase for the average Scarsdale homeowner as related to the proposed budget for 2019-20, using an average property value of $1.5 million?

The School Taxes for 2019-20 for the Average Assessed Home (we use $1,595,700 as the average) will increase to $25,446 from $25,039 or a $407 increase, representing a percentage increase of 1.63 percent.

What is the projected 2018-19 surplus at this time?

The projected surplus for FYE is $2,57,172 which can be found on page 61 in the budget book or in the most recent budget presentation. Does the use of surplus to reduce the tax levy impact tax calculations for the following year? Please explain the budget implications. Yes it does if 1) they are used for recurring expenses and 2) a surplus of the same amount is not achieved the following year and used to offset the tax levy in a like amount. If this is not accomplished then expenditures must be reduced or other revenues increased (including tax levy) or utilization of reserves or a combination of all three in order to achieve status quo.

In light of the discussion regarding student social/ emotional well-being, please specify the ways in which the implementation of increased security staffing, enhanced protocol and procedures has taken into account student and school community social/ emotional well-being. What does the current research say about how lockdown drills and enhanced security procedures affect social/ emotional well-being?

We are unaware of any studies that would directly correlate to the Scarsdale student and community experience. Most studies that look at the presence of highly visible security features (police, metal detectors, extensive cameras etc.) are focused on inner-city and high crime schools. It is important to note that deliberation surrounding all improvements that the District is considering, from any one of the three prongs as discussed in Budget Session #1, take into account any impacts on the social-emotional well being of our students. The National Association of School Psychologists has published a paper called Rethinking School Safety: Communities and Schools Working Together, which is indicative of the District’s thinking around the balance required in the implementation of School Safety and Security.

As part of the discussion regarding social/ emotional health, stress, student safety, and the importance of trusted adult relationships, has the District reviewed the potential impact of the increase in the number of students per dean at the high school?

While the SHS ratio is on the higher end of comparable Districts (range ~1:115 -~1:200), it is far lower than many other school districts in Westchester. When discussing the ratio of guidance counselors to students, the conversation must include what other mental health professionals are in the building. SHS has 2.2 psychologists serving the general population, 1 psychologist for the Scarsdale Support Program, and 2 Certified Social Workers provided through the Youth Services Project. The ratio for students to mental health professionals in the building with the addition of these resources is 1:117 (this does not take into account the Scarsdale Support Psychologist as she has a restricted caseload within the program). Currently, the District feels we have an appropriate ratio to address needs. However, we have seen an increase, generally, in social/emotional needs and we will be assessing our needs regularly.

What is the status of potential kitchen projects at Fox Meadow and Edgewood?

Initial plans for these projects and others were discussed during the 2018 Bond Development. These plans were eventually put aside. The architects are now exploring other opportunities to thoughtfully provide kitchen services to these buildings. These plans are in the early stages of development.

Would the Con Ed gas moratorium affect or delay new construction projects, including possible kitchen projects?

No, Con Ed has been alerted to these projects and the District has been assured that there will be no impact.

Does the 2019-20 budget support any specific program and/ or curricular initiative beyond that of last year’s budget? If so, please explain the nature of those initiatives.

This budget reflects an increase in the area of sustainability to increase support for gardens across the District. We are building internal capacity in our area of interdependence/global competencies and are, therefore, releasing an outside consultant. This trade-off has contributed to a relatively flat budget.

If this budget does not include any additional or enhanced curricular initiatives, then discuss the rationale behind this decision as well as the district strategy for keeping Scarsdale Schools on the forefront of public education.

Rather than layer on additional curricular initiatives at this time, we are focusing on supporting and nurturing current and important work in the area of innovation, shifts in “next generation standards,” personalized learning, literacy, global competencies, critical thinking, research, and problem-solving.

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