Parents, Teachers Talk White Plains Budget Cuts

Freshmen sports teams, electricity are suggested areas for slashing.

With budget season approaching, White Plains school officials are doing what nearly every school board in the state is—playing limbo with Gov. Andrew Cuomo's two-percent tax cap.

School officials, parents and taxpayers met last week for a preliminary public forum on the 2013-14 fiscal plan, and will continue to hammer out budget details and options until the May vote rolls around.

The 2012-2013 budget came in at $188,822,000, and current expense trends would place the 2013-14 budget at $194,850,000.

But the Cuomo-imposed cap requires a $193,600,000 budget, which translates into $1,250,000 in cuts.

The two-percent cap is a ceiling on the tax levy, or total dollars in property taxes. It is not a cap on budget expenses.

Teacher and administrator salaries are the cardinal focus of this year's proposed spending, claiming a 50.7-percent stake. The projected increase in salaries this year is $1,750,000.

Close behind are entitlements, with 24.5-percent of the budget allocated for employee benefits. Retirement system costs are expected to rise by over $2 million.

Debt service, utilities and repair, and BOCES expenses all come in at under 10-percent each.

At a meeting last week, White Plains residents took to brainstorming what programs and services may be slashed. Among the suggestions: freshmen sports teams, and any non-mandated, unpopular activities.

Restructuring staff to save money was also discussed, like changing some full-time positions to part-time positions, or having more custodians work day shifts.

Other suggested cost saving measures included charging for use of school fields, sharing services with other schools and implementing a more austere electricity use regimen.


Budget timeline

March 17: Community response forum @ White Plains Library, 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

March 20: Community response forum @ High School room B-1, 7:30 p.m.

April 8: Board adopts proposed 2013-14 budget @ Education House, 7:30 p.m.

May 13: Public hearing on adopted proposed budget @ Education House, 7:30 p.m.

May 21: Budget/school board vote


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