Rye City School District ▪ 411 Theodore Fremd Ave Suite 100S, Rye, NY 10580 ▪ (914) 967-6100 

 Board Notes  


2013-2014 Board of Edu
Laura Slack, President ▪ Katy Keohane Glassberg, VP  
Karen Belanger ▪ Edward M. Fox ▪ Nancy Pasquale ▪ Chris Repetto ▪ Nicole Weber

A Summary of the 4/22/14 Rye City School District Board of Education Meeting


Superintendent's Report 
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank Alvarez provided a report to the Board of Education and community. He shared that the Midland School Principal search is now in the interview phase with the hopes of making an appointment in May. He also noted that the Assistant Principal search for Rye Middle School will begin in the coming weeks. Dr. Alvarez additionally explained that the District is in the process of renegotiating aspects of its Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) Plan, and will likely have an update to share later in May. 

Dr. Alvarez concluded his report by announcing an outstanding achievement: Rye High School earned exceptional rankings on US News & World Report's newly released list of Best High Schools in the country. When looking at open-enrollment schools only, Rye High School ranks #2 in the state and #4 nationally! Out of over 19,400 high schools including charter and magnet schools that were analyzed, Rye High School ranked 68th in the country and 11th in the state. US News & World Report determines its lists based on how well high schools prepare students for college, student test scores, and other factors. Schools were distinguished with Gold, Silver, or Bronze medals - RHS earned a Gold medal, the highest honor. Board of Education President Laura Slack thanked all of the District's administrators and K-12 teachers, on behalf of the Board, for their dedication and hard work that helps makes accomplishments such as this possible.
Board of Education President Laura Slack announced with gratitude and sadness the retirements of three very valued staff members: Director of Technology Carole Andreasen, Foreign Language Teacher Cindy Weichert, and Milton School Secretary Dotty Bykowski.
Mrs. Andreasen has been part of the District for 35 years; she was first hired as a math teacher in 1979 and later taught a variety of other classes at RHS including several levels of computer classes. Mrs. Andreasen was appointed as the District's Technology 2000 Plan Coordinator in 1995 and finally took on her current role as Director of Technology in 2003. 

Mrs. Weichert joined the District in 2007 as a Foreign Language Teacher at Rye High School. She has taught various levels of Spanish classes including AP courses. Additionally, Mrs. Weichert has served as an Advisor for the High School's Freshman, Sophomore and Junior Classes, and also founded the Italian Language and Culture Club.


Mrs. Bykowski has served as secretary to Principal JoAnne Nardone at Milton School throughout the current school year, following the July 2013 retirement of Ann Moller. Previously Mrs. Bykowski was secretary to Principal Angela Grille at Midland School, a role she held since 2008. She has been greatly appreciated by the principals with whom she has worked.  

Mrs. Slack thanked all three staff members for all that they have contributed to our District, wishing them joyful retirements. 

Gifts to the District    
The Board of Education approved several gifts. Three gifts from the Osborn School PTO totaling $26,214.95 will be used to purchase technology products including audio enhancements, iPad Airs, and other Apple items. A gift from the Milton School PTO in the amount of $1,199 will provide covers for iPads that were previously purchased. Mrs. Slack expressed appreciation to the generous parent bodies that continue to support Rye's students and schools. 
Adoption of the 2014-15 Proposed Budget
The Board adopted the 2014-15 Proposed Budget for $79,365,200, which is a tax cap-compliant budget that preserves programs and class sizes. Prior to adopting the budget, Assistant Superintendent for Business Gabriella O'Connor provided an updated presentation on the Superintendent's Recommended 2014-15 Budget, which focused on maintaining programs; honoring the class size policy; adding a custodian, security guard, and four teachers at the High School; and fulfilling the vision of what the Writing Mentor Program should be. She noted that several of the differences in the line item budget are a result of realignment, as this is the first year that the District is using WinCap financing software, which is described below. 
Ms. O'Connor reviewed topics including the tax cap calculation process, prior cost saving measures, fund balance, budget drivers, enrollment, the utility tax, the reallocation of funds in the line item budget, and more. The presentation is summarized as follows:

Tax Cap
Ms. O'Connor reviewed the tax cap calculation process, explaining that the 2014-15 tax cap for the Rye City School District is 1.64%. 

Prior Cost Saving Measures
The District has made a number of cuts in the past, including the reduction of 61.9 staff members since 2009-10 and decrease in reserves by 29%. Several cost saving efficiencies, such as the financing software mentioned, have been implemented this year to better track costs and spending as well as the use of staff time. High School and Middle School schedules were aligned in order to allow flexibility with staffing and improved use of facilities. Throughout the District, roles of department chairs were redefined, staffing was adjusted based on specific student needs, and contractual obligations of staff members were maximized. The District enters into cost sharing contracts whenever possible, and also takes every opportunity to utilize cooperative bidding at all levels (District, County, and State). 

Fund Balance
Ms. O'Connor reviewed the fund balance decline year to year, discussing the three major reserve funds that the District has relied most heavily upon: Tax Certiorari reserves, Employees' Retirement System (ERS) reserves, and Undesignated Fund Balance. All of these have decreased over the years as unfunded State mandates continue to increase in cost.

Budget Drivers Beyond Local Control
There are a number of budget drivers that are beyond the District's control. Ms. O'Connor explained that mandated pension costs for Employer Retirement Contributions and Health Care Benefits continue to increase significantly in expenditure. Cost drivers also result from a number of other ongoing unfunded legislative mandates, such as the Common Core Learning Standards and Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR). None of these are eligible for exemptions under the tax cap.

The District's enrollment continues to grow, and the tax cap does not allow for exemptions based on enrollment. At the High School, there will be an increase of 144 students over two years, posing the need for more teachers. Districtwide enrollment has increased 20% since 2004. 

Superintendent's Recommended Budget
The Board adopted the Superintendent's recommended 2014-15 budget, which is tax cap-compliant. Dr. Alvarez made it clear to the Board that, in adopting this budget, they have to either enact a utility tax, use reserves, or make cuts, which he does not recommend. In order to implement a utility tax a public hearing must be held on May 28, during which the Board will make a formal decision.
Utility Tax, Explained
Based on what the City of Rye collects, the District anticipates an estimated annual utility tax revenue of $1,100,000. The estimated projected prorated revenue for 2014-15 would be $913,250.
The Utility Tax is applicable to the receipts from every sale, other than
sales for resale, of services such as gas, electricity, refrigeration and
steam, and telephone. The tax is collected by the State Tax Commission in the same manner as the state sales tax is collected: the tax appears on the utility bill, is collected by the utility, and the monies are remitted to the District by the utility.  
Mrs. Slack discussed the reasoning for a utility tax in further detail, sharing the following points: 
* In remaining tax cap-compliant, residents who qualify for STAR exemptions will be eligible for the property tax rebate checks, which, we are told,will be sent to all qualifying homeowners to offset the increase in school taxes for 2014-15. 

* The utility tax increases the tax base, meaning that a percentage of the monies would come from sources other than homeowners. Part of the burden would be shifted to businesses, some of which are the biggest users of utilities.

* The utility tax is a device used by many of Rye's neighboring small cities to support school services, and can be enacted at the discretion of the Board of Education. Prior Boards of Education in Rye have resisted its use, and with good reason, but none of these prior boards had to contend with the revenue constrained environment that exists today.

* The diversification of revenue that the utility tax would provide supports the District's likelihood of sustaining its favorable Moody's Investors Services bond rating, which keeps borrowing costs low and results in significant savings for taxpayers.

* Alternatives to the utility tax - either staff and program cuts or an override of the cap - are even less desirable than the implementation of the utility tax. Mrs. Slack explained that the District has exhausted its ability to further reduce spending in the budget, as any meaningful cuts would impact programs and students.

* While an override will likely be inevitable in future years, this is a serious matter and the District must invest the time to educate the public on what it means and why it is necessary. Mrs. Slack noted that the District needs to establish its plan for communicating with all entities, over a substantial timeline, in order to provide them with information and address any questions regarding an override. 


The District's Focus on Excellence budget newsletter will be mailed to all Rye homes in May. This publication will contain important details about the budget to help residents make an informed decision. The budget vote and Board of Education election will be held on May 20 between the hours of 7 a.m.-9 p.m. in the Rye Middle School gymnasium. For more information and to view past presentations visit www.ryeschools.org. 

Next Regular Meeting
May 8, 2014
8:00 pm 
Rye Middle School    Multipurpose Room

Visit our District website for complete information on Board of Education meetings, minutes, policies and actions.


can be accessed on the District website.  Videos should be available 2-3 days after each Board meeting.  Past meeting videos are also accessible.

Watch the video of Board of Education meetings on Cablevision channel 77 and
Verizon Fios channel 40.
The RCTV programming schedule can be found on the District website.