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White Plains Schools Release Instructional Budget

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – The White Plains Board of Education released most of its proposed instructional budget Monday night, outlining changes in the library, research and curriculum, guidance and health services finance plans that raise the instructional budget $66,965 to $19,088,715.

Fred Seiler, assistant superintendent for business, said the district’s 2012-13 fiscal plan would remain within the new 2 percent property tax cap.

"At this point, we're under 2 percent and we expect to probably see a tax cap at 2 percent, so we're meeting that particular goal. Although the challenge yet is the teaching and special ed budget," Seiler said of the second part of the instructional budget, which will be outlined Feb. 27. "We’re recognizing things like the property tax cap, our national and regional economy, how we put together a budget that will provide the resources and instruction necessary to be successful and balance that with the community needs and expectations. So we have some challenges.”

The instructional budget, which is approximately 10 percent of the proposed $103,293,960 fiscal plan, plans to spend $129,701 more on curriculum development and supervision, including adding staff to support English language arts, and $75,789 more on negotiated raises for principals, assistant principals and related staff.

Negotiated raises and financing required by the state have helped increase the guidance section by $30,359, the health services section by $73,219, psychology services section by $23,519, and the speech services section by $17,825.

White Plains schools slated a $53,478 increase for the research, planning and evaluation section due to a recently hired part-time grant writer, who officials hope will bring in more outside money than his or her salary.

The district plans to dish out $75,000 on a residency investigation that Seiler said would locate an out-of-district family sending its students to White Plains schools every month or two. The tuition fees recouped from these families or related enrollment decreases save the district anywhere from $300,000 to $500,000 a year, according to Seiler.

The library and audio visual budget section was decreased by $15,699, as the district began grouping textbook and computer software together.

"Software will tend to be up because that’s where we tend to be going in the 21st century," he said of a $59,098 budget for computer programs in libraries and the $66,223 budgeted in the instructional technology section.

That proposition didn't resonate with school board member James Hricay, who said he was concerned about annual licensing fees and that "textbooks or books generally last longer than a year."

Although officials said they expect to finance the same amount of sports teams as last year, the budget calls for a $103,132 for the interscholastic sports section because the district has learned it must sponsor track meets and events previously organized by clubs. However, Seiler said revenue from these competitions should help absorb most of their costs.

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