Published in the Scarsdale Inquirer https://www.scarsdalenews.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editor/proposed-school-budget-moves-scarsdale-education-forward/article_72f20a1a-c88d-11ec-ba2a-2b4947153539.html
May 1, 2022
This is a very difficult but important time for the Scarsdale School District.
We have learned of errors regarding payroll tax payments and failure to timely report the payment problems to the board of education, and the BOE has authorized an investigation.
We would submit that in the midst of all of this, it is very important that the education of Scarsdale schoolchildren continues to move forward.
The vote on the proposed school budget for 2022-23, unanimously put forward by the school board, will take place May 17, two weeks from Tuesday. Like the PT Council Executive Committee and the League of Women Voters of Scarsdale, we support the proposed budget. We urge district voters to vote Yes.
Among the key features of the proposed budget:
1) Preserving Scarsdale’s core educational foundation:
- In Scarsdale’s elementary schools, maintaining reasonable class size limits;
- At Scarsdale Middle School, maintaining the House system;
- At Scarsdale High School, maintaining reasonable class sizes and prioritizing student choice regarding courses.
2) Moving Scarsdale curriculum forward for Scarsdale students:
- In Scarsdale’s elementary schools, adding a teacher to assist with rollout of a Next Gen-standards aligned math program;
- Continuing the district’s commitment to providing meaningful technology and STEAM experiences for all students
including through addition of an SMS computer science teacher, which will allow extra focus on computer science and programming instruction for all sixth grade students; Continuing important professional development to help our teachers to best teach Scarsdale students;
3) Address student mental health needs that have increased amidst the pandemic, including through addition of a psychologist and a social worker at each of SMS and SHS; and
4) Wi-Fi improvements.
The proposed budget increase is 3.85%, and the proposed tax levy increase is 3.45%-2.43% for Scarsdale and 3.68% for Mamaroneck. While the school board did not indicate that it was budgeting to the state tax cap, the proposed levy increase is below the levy limit.
Some may be wondering whether the district has understated the needed tax levy in the proposed budget because the district has accounted for the recent $843,558 payment to the IRS as an account receivable. Whether or not that payment is treated as an account receivable, the levy proposed is all that is needed as a levy for next school year. The payment to the IRS does not require an increase to the levy. Fund balance is available if that payment and any other similar payments are accounted for as expenses.
We also urge the community to vote for SBNC nominees Colleen Brown, Suzie Hahn Pascutti and Ron Schulhof. Mr. Schulhof has proven himself as an effective trustee. And we are very impressed with Ms. Brown’s and Ms. Pascutti’s credentials and background, and value the SBNC’s nomination.
We urge voters to mark your calendars for May 17, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at SMS, and to vote Yes on the budget, and for the SBNC nominees to help keep Scarsdale schools strong at this important time.
Chair, Coalition for Scarsdale Schools