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Napolitano: Economic Crisis Has Affected Delivery of Education

The Yorktown school district expects a $1.2 million state aid cut, while pension costs are rising $1.5 million.

In the latest budget presentations, Yorktown schools superintendent Ralph Napolitano said the national economic crisis is affecting the delivery of education and the ability of the state government to fund it. 

"This saddens me," he said. "It's not something I feel good about reporting, but it is our reality. The tax payers clearly, most particularly in Westchester where we're paying some of the highest taxes in the country are becoming financially intolerant of being able to support budgets that are so expensive."

The property valuations simultaneously, he said, are plummeting and stock market losses have caused pension costs to skyrocket. 

The Yorktown school district expects a $1.2 million state aid cut, while the pension costs are rising to $1.5 million.  

Here in town, the declining real estate values have led to significant tax challenges, or certiorari. Currently, the former Verizon building, located on Route 202, near BJ's, has challenged Yorktown for what they consider "excessive taxing" over a period of 10 years, Napolitano said. 

"They're expecting a reimbursement from the school district of $1 million," he said. "This is something that was very unexpected for us because although we do put $1 million to the side for certioraris, we don't expect that we're going to pay it them in one single challenge. And in this case that's what's happened to us."

This tax challenge is wiping out the district's reserve fund, Napolitano said. 

New York State is facing a $10 billion budget gap. As a result state aid and federal stimulus funds to school districts are cut. 

Some of the problems the school district is facing are increasing salaries due to contracts, increasing health insurance, no relief for current or proposed unfunded state mandates. In addition the state has proposed a 2-percent tax cap, which would limit the district's tax levy growth to $1.4 million, Napolitano said.

He said they will need to find $4 million to reduce the tax levy by transferring $1.4 million from the fund balance, which would still leave $2.6 million in cost reductions or added revenue needed. 

"Every aspect of the budget is under review right now," Napolitano said. "And every possible source of revenue is investigated."

He also reviewed the savings from closing French Hill Elementary School for this 2010-11 school year. The district will continue to save $1 million every year the school is closed because of the reduced positions and costs of electricity, heat, general maintenance, overtime and purchases of materials and equipment, he said. 

"We are expecting to lease the building during the next school year (2011- 2012)," Napolitano said. "The money from the rental will help increase funding allocations for the school budget."

Assistant Superintendent of Business Tom Cole reviewed the preliminary special education and curriculum budgets. The special education budget is $12.4 million, up from 2010-2011 budget of $11.7 million. The estimated curriculum budget is $35.5 million, up from the 2010-2011 budget of $34.4 million. 

During the school board of education meeting next week, Monday, March 7, Napolitano will present the Superintendent's budget.

Francis T McVetty March 03, 2011 at 01:39 PM
Does Dr Napolitano really think that ["We are expecting to lease the building during the next school year (2011- 2012)"] is going to happen? Lease it to who? Isn't this typical of an academic, counting their chickens before they hatch. If it was a matter of money, then parochial schools would be turning out students that were 20-25% below the national standard, but that is NOT the case. Parochial schools are turning out students that are 20% above the national average. In this case it looks like less is more, doesn't it? Maybe if we spent less on public education we would get more? It seems from the figures that the United States has the second highest expenditure per student. When it comes to results , the United States comes in 15th. Something is wrong with the equation. We are falling behind the rest of the world when it comes to education results. I don't have the answers, but I am certainly sure our public school educators don't either. I do know that every year my school taxes go up faster than the cost of living. As to solutions, maybe the school year should be extended. It certainly seems that the time allotted to education may not be long enough. Class size shouldn't be an issue. Some of us that went to parochial know that we had bigger class sizes in comparison to the public schools. The answers are out there, someone has to find them. The system is broken and if not fixed very soon, we will find our country within the ranking of a third world nation.
Sun4stars March 03, 2011 at 06:25 PM
In my opinion, it the culture. Because the seniority, passionated young teacher can not keep their job, but "seasoned" staff got stay w/ their "aged" material. Although most of them are still passioned about teaching, and educating themselves continually, just few of them that I could agree w/ . But few is affecting the whole system and discourage others.

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