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Budget Increases May Force Rye Schools To Cut Staff

Rye Superintendent Frank Alvarez said that the district may have to cut 29 staff members.
Rye Superintendent Frank Alvarez said that the district may have to cut 29 staff members. Photo Credit: Anna Helhoski, file

RYE, NY. -- The Rye school budget is expected to increase by $3.07 million next year, but unfunded mandates and the state's tax cap are forcing district officials to cut around $2.3 million in costs. About 29 staff positions could be affected by these cuts.

The $76.6 million proposed budget for the 2013-14 school year is a 4.18 percent increase over last year. Obligations for employee retirement funds and health care are expected to increase by about $3.9 million next year, according to Superintendent Frank Alvarez. New state-mandated annual professional performance reviews will cost around $150,000. The schools are also continuing with security personnel in the elementary schools , a measure that was added this year and will cost $132,000 next year.

Alvarez said at last week's Board of Education meeting that the district is still waiting to hear from some teachers on whether or not they are planning to come back before deciding how many staffing cuts will need to be made. Possible staffing cuts include some aides and specials teachers in the elementary schools, some teaching assistants at the high school, and some positions in special education.

"We've trimmed a lot around the edges. So, in some ways, it may not feel radically different next year, but for the sake of transparency it's not going to be business as usual," he said at the meeting. "There are going to be some impacts in some areas that are going to be felt, but I think that the times call for some bold measures."

School administrators and Board of Education members have been working with a number of groups to appeal to Albany so that legislators know the impact that the tax cap will have on the schools. The district has posted a letter to lawmakers on its website , which it encourages parents to print out and send to their representatives.

"It's a tough time for all of us, it's a tough time for public education in general," Alvarez said. "Things need to change in Albany, things need to change beyond us so that we can continue to help our kids locally."

The Board of Education will next meet to discuss the budget on April 2 at 8 p.m. in the Rye Middle School multipurpose room.

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