RYE, N.Y. -- With the Rye City School District facing a $2.7 million increase in its budget next year, officials are weighing options to control a potential budget shortfall.
Superintendent Frank Alvarez's proposed budget for the 2014-15 school year is $79.47 million. The tax levy increase of 1.64 percent would give the district $69.989 million in revenue. With an addition of $5.638 million in non-tax revenue, the district is facing a $3.842 million shortfall.
Alvarez has proposed a number of options for the district to possibly deal with the shortfall. One would be to fund it through the use of reserves or through reserves and a utility tax. A second option would be to use tax revenue to fund the entire shortfall, which would raise the tax levy increase to 7.22 percent and would require an override of the tax cap. The third option would be to use a combination of reserves and an override of the tax cap.
The fourth option identified is to use reserves and cut up to $1.7 million from the budget. Alvarez said this option is not recommended.
"I think we would be having a real serious discussion about class size," Alvarez said. Among the cuts identified that could be made would be cutting staff positions and increasing class sizes, cutting the Foreign Language for Elementary Schools program, reducing funding for art, music and technology, eliminating clerical, custodial and aide positions and cutting funding for athletics and clubs.
"I'm not recommending any of these, and if the board chooses to have some cuts we could do a mix of these if we decided to go that route," Alvarez said.
Among the main drivers of the budget increase is rising enrollment. Student enrollment has increased by 592 students since 2004, according to Assistant Superintendent of Business Gabriella O'Connor. Next year will see an increase of 72 students at the high school. Costs to deal with this increase include hiring four new teachers, a security guard and a custodian.
"We are always faced with ever-changing and ever-adding New York State legislative mandates that come our way," O'Connor said. Pension costs are expected to increase 9 percent, retirement benefit costs will increase 2 percent and healthcare costs will increase 4.75 percent.
"It's no surprise that these are extremely difficult times, and they have been difficult times for the last couple of years," said Alvarez. Last year the district was forced to cut $2.3 million from the budget, and eliminate 27.9 full-time positions.