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Bond Discussion Dominates Rye Board of Ed Meeting

RYE, N.Y. – The dominant topic of conversation at Tuesday's Rye School District Board of Education meeting swirled around the $20 million bond that was defeated on Dec. 13 . Members of the board and the public shared both their perspective on the vote and offered alternative solutions to the district's space issue.

According to Laura Slack, school board president, the high school is currently operating at 104 percent functional capacity and is currently 242 students over its target number. The district is predicting a bulge in enrollment in 2014 that could balloon class sizes to an "unsustainable" level.

In his report, Superintendent Ed Shine urged the administration to consider a smaller, less costly project and to consider using fund balance to reduce the cost of the bond, as well as reduce the tax burden. Shine also requested that the board schedule a special meeting on Jan. 17 to review his recommendations so that a new bond proposal can be brought before the public as soon as possible.

Resident Jamie Jensen, who has children in both the middle school and high school, delivered a monologue that was met with audience applause.

Jensen said she thinks it is a shame the bond was defeated “in one of the wealthiest communities in the United States.”  Jensen also added that she feels it's time the board should start "scaring people" with budget cuts.

"It's time that members of the community started listening," Jensen said. "These are real issues."

Resident Mary Emery echoed Jensen's sentiment.

"The kids are sardines right now and we have to start preparing for the next bulge," Emery said. "Can you trim? Sure you can. You can put 16 portable (classrooms) around the perimeter of the school, but is that what we really want?"

Many members of the public said a "vote no" campaign misinformed residents and hindered the bond vote. While the district and its affiliated parties did what they could to clarify the facts, the board said that ultimately it was too late. The district acknowledged the need to more efficiently market the facts to the public in its next bond campaign.

"We have to determine what's the best way to inform the people," said Kendall Egan, school board member. "The community needs to understand the impact better."

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