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Rye to Vote on $16 Million School Bond Tuesday

RYE, N.Y. - On a cold night in mid-December, Board of Education President Laura Slack sat in front of a dejected audience at Rye Middle School and confirmed that the district would not waiver in its attempt to address the High School space issue.

Exactly three months after Rye School District's initial $19.9 million bond was defeated by an overwhelming margin , Slack and the Board will make good on that promise. On Tuesday the polls will reopen and the community will once again weigh in for round two of the Rye School bond referendum. However, this time the district has scaled back its proposal by approximately $3.6 million.

In an effort to make the bond more amenable to the public, the district has eliminated the renovations of seven bathrooms, the boys and girls locker rooms, the middle school nurse's office and the high school guidance suite.

In addition, the 2012 bond also cuts the conversion of 11 general classrooms to nine, saving about $1 million. The district has continuously stressed the narrower focus of the new bond.

Approximately $15.9 million of the $16.3 million bond will go toward addressing overcrowding at the high school and middle schoo l, with the remaining $400,000 addressing mandatory building code upgrades.

According to a January report published by the district, enrollment district-wide has grown from just over 2,200 students in 1996 to 3,235 in 2011. Middle school and high school enrollment has risen from 972 students to almost 1,700 students over that same span and the district is predicting enrollment could balloon to as high as 1,900 by 2021.

"The district urgently needs additional classrooms at the middle school/high school and we must proceed now so that we have enough time to add sufficient classroom space for the September 2014 school opening," Slack said in a letter to the community.

In a presentation delivered to the board on Feb. 14, Assistant Superintendent of Business Kathleen Ryan detailed the financial impacts of the 2012 bond. According to Ryan, the tax impact on the average household for the first year is $1.76, while the estimated full tax impact for the first year of added debt for the average household is $250.50.

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