WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – The White Plains School Budget for the 2013 – 2014 academic year calls for 2 1/2 librarian positions to be cut in what Superintendent Christopher Clouet said was not an easy choice.
“Obviously, we would like not to cut anything,” said Clouet Monday night at the public budget hearing. “It’s an understatement to call it less than ideal. We’re not happy about this. I’m not happy about this, but we are looking at the needs of kids and we are looking at making some tough decisions and prioritizing. This is the proposal that we put forward.”
After proposing plans for “General Support,” “Instructional – Part 1" and “Transportation,” the preliminary budget stands at $106,424,262, which is a 2.8 percent increase from last year’s $103,523,384 budget.
With a 2012-13 school year budget of $188.8 million, the 2013-14 revenue cap is $193.6 million. However, the expense trend is projected as $194.85 million leaving a necessary budget reduction of $1.25 million in order to not jump the cap.
“This is a difficult year,” said Clouet. “The 2 percent tax levy cap is starting to catch up with districts across the state, including ours. The latitude that we might have had once to prioritize is being narrowed further and further. That’s a difficult situation.”
The school library media budget is currently $1,073,331, which is a decrease of $291,868 from last year. There were additions to the instructional budget, including two guidance counselor positions, with an extra one at the Eastview/Highlands campuses and another at White Plains High School.
White Plains Director of Guidance Lesley Tompkins looked at a December 2010 survey of 34 surrounding school districts and found that White Plains High School “is 25 percent above the average” guidance counselor to student ratio.
“In fact, it is higher than 30 of the 34, significantly,” she said. “Even if we add an additional counselor at the high school, we would still be higher than 22 of the 34. Our caseload right now in grades six through nine, each counselor has approximately 276 students. At the high school, the 10 to 12 counselors have 213 students each.”
The high school number would decrease to 186 students per guidance counselor with the additional position. Currently, each guidance counselor has approximately 72 seniors, Tompkins said. Clouet mentioned that a number of parents reached out to him to discuss their concerns about the guidance counselor issue.
When it comes to the co-curricular budget, it stands at $361,196, which is a decrease of $35,504. That came about from reducing the hours of a full-time employee and less pay for club advisors. The interscholastic athletics budget, responsible for 67 teams and nearly 1,000 events, stands at $915,503, which is an increase of $14,188. The increase is due to added security and supplies at sporting events.
The next 2013 – 2014 White Plains School Budget meeting will take place March 11 at the Education House. Part two of the instructional budget and revenue will be discussed. The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m.
You can check other important dates for the budget online.