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2017-2018 District Budget: Community Vote is May 16 (7 am - 9 pm)

We invite you to become involved and learn as much as possible about the Mamaroneck School District Proposed Budget. Be a part of the voting process, and ensure that your voice is heard. The community vote is Tuesday, May 16, 2017 at your local elementary school - 7 am - 9 pm.

Budget Information/Materials

Budget Q&A

To the Community:

We asked you for questions, and you did not disappoint! Here are the answers to some questions about the school budget that we have heard in the last few weeks.

Before you dive into these FAQs (which are separated according to the subject categories below), we invite you to review our letter, and the letter from Superintendent Dr. Robert Shaps, which together provide an overview as to our Proposed Budget -- the financial articulation of our education plan.

If you have other questions after reviewing these materials, please email us at board@mamkschools.org. And don't forget to vote at your local elementary school on May 16! Click here for information on voter registration.

Respectfully,

The Mamaroneck Board of Education

Q&A Topics

BUDGET DEVELOPMENT

How is the annual school budget proposal developed?

Reviewing programs, needs, contracts and costs

The annual budget represents a financial articulation of what we value and aim to accomplish in our District schools, while at the same time remaining fiscally responsible. In formulating a budget, District administrators, building principals and Student Support Services staff review each program, the needs of individual students and enrollment trends. The Superintendent and the Assistant Superintendent for Business Operations review projected revenues and expenditures, including contractual obligations.

At the two Board of Education meetings in February, Superintendent Robert Shaps presented information relevant to budget development, including revenue and expense projections, data regarding enrollment trends, and historical information regarding reserves as well as tax levy and other revenues. The Board considered the amount of reductions required under various potential tax levy scenarios. Click here and here for links to the presentations from those meetings.

On March 7, the Superintendent presented his Recommended Budget. Click here for that presentation. Over the next several weeks, the administration continued to gather updated financial information, as well as questions and feedback from the Board of Education and the community, and the budget continued to evolve.

On April 18, the Board approved the Proposed Budget. This is the budget that will be presented to the community for a vote on May 16. Click here and here for the April 18 presentation and the budget document.

Additional information, together with the presentations made at each Board meeting, can be found here. In addition, Board meetings are available for viewing on demand from the LMC-TV website.

What happens now that the Board has approved the Proposed Budget?

Registered voters can vote on the Proposed Budget on Tuesday, May 16, at their local elementary schools between 7AM and 9PM.

Click here for information about voter registration and here for information on obtaining an absentee ballot.

Click here to see the resolution that will appear on the ballot.

TAXES AND THE TAX LEVY CAP

What is the tax cap?

A limit on the funds our District can raise through property taxes

The tax cap is really a tax levy cap -- a cap on the ability of a school district to grow its tax levy (the taxes it collects from its community). The tax cap law, enacted in 2011, provides that a school district can exceed the cap if 60% of the voters approve the "override."

The tax levy cap is based on a formula set by the State. One of the variables in the formula is the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or 2%, whichever is less. For the 2017-2018 budget, the CPI was 1.26%, which resulted in a tax levy cap of 1.04% for Mamaroneck after applying the formula. Although the Proposed Budget is increasing only 1.46% over the prior year's budget, that modest increase in budget results in a tax levy increase of 2.25%, which requires an override of 60% voter approval to pass.

To see how the tax levy cap was calculated for Mamaroneck, see page 11 of the
March 7, 2017 presentation.

How will this year’s school budget impact my real property taxes?

Your school taxes likely will go down if your assessment stayed flat or decreased

The District advises the Town of Mamaroneck as to the amount of money we need to collect from taxpayers (the tax levy). The Town then collects it for all three municipalities, using the assessed value for each property to determine each taxpayer's property tax.

The Town has advised that the total property valuation has increased, in part as a result of additional properties. This has led to a projected tax rate decrease of 0.94% per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

If a property's assessment has increased, it is possible that the school taxes on that property might increase even though the tax rate is estimated to decrease. If a homeowner's assessment stayed the same or went down, then their school taxes should go down. Each homeowner can figure out their own taxes by taking the tax rate per $1,000, multiplying by their property's assessed value, and then dividing by 1,000.

Does exceeding the tax levy cap impact my STAR rebate?

Qualified taxpayers will still get STAR rebates but will not get the property tax relief credit

Exceeding the tax levy cap does not have an impact on either of the STAR programs (Basic or Enhanced). If you qualify for a STAR rebate, you will still receive one. But because the District is exceeding the cap, homeowners will not be eligible for the State's property tax relief credit.

What is the NYS property tax relief credit?

The Property Tax Relief Credit is available to property owners provided they (a) currently receive STAR, (b) have incomes of $275,000 or less, and (c) reside within a school district which does not exceed its allowable tax levy cap. Last year, Mamaroneck residents receiving STAR rebates also received $130 as a tax relief credit. According to the State Department of Taxation and Finance, beginning in 2017, the property tax relief credit will be a percentage of a homeowner’s STAR benefit, with lower incomes receiving a higher percentage benefit. The State has not provided further details of what qualifying taxpayers would receive for 2017. For more information, see the State's property tax relief webpage https://www.tax.ny.gov/pit/property/property-tax

Why does the District need to override the tax cap levy this year?

Deeper cuts would erode quality of District programs

Based on the tax levy cap formula, if the District budgeted under the cap we would be allowed to increase our 2016-2017 budget by only about $500,000. This would not cover increased contractual health care and salary expenses, special education costs and new hires to address rising enrollment. In addition, because we drew on reserves to support revenues last year and lost some other revenues, we started the budget process with a revenue hole of approximately $700,000.

As Dr. Shaps noted in his budget letter to the community, in order to continue to preserve and invest in our District’s programs and experiences, maintain current class size guidelines, and achieve our District goals, we are turning to the community to approve a budget that exceeds the cap.

Will subsequent school budgets require an override?

Probably not in the near term, but uncertain

By increasing the budget beyond the tax levy cap this year, we are building a higher base from which to build future budgets. This will help us prepare, for example, for the likelihood that we will need to add another academic team (5 teachers) to the Hommocks Middle School for the 2019-2020 school year to accommodate the very large group of students currently in third grade.

The higher base will make the need for an override less likely in future years. We don't have a crystal ball, however; unexpected enrollment increases, higher costs, or lower revenue from sources like State Aid could lead the District to seek an override down the road.

Why does the school budget keep going up? What measures have been taken to control spending?

Enrollment, contractual obligations and mandated special education costs drive increases; budgets have grown conservatively and decreased when possible

Our school budget increases are largely driven by increasing enrollment, contractual obligations for employee salaries and benefits, and rising mandated special education costs.

Since 2011-2012, our budget actually decreased twice. We have kept costs down through staff cuts outside the classroom, outsourcing, and by using reserves. We have negotiated changes to our employee contracts, leading to both short-term and long-term savings. We also have saved money by switching from a premium-based health care plan to self-insured plan.

Since 2011-2012, including this year’s proposed budget, the average annual budget change has been 1.26%. In fact, in the previous five years, we have proposed budgets below the tax levy cap. If the District had budgeted to the cap in each of those years, we would have collected almost $14 million more from taxpayers.

Can we compare our budget and tax levy increase to other Westchester districts?

It’s apples and oranges; different districts have different tax levy caps

Each school district applies the tax levy cap formula to come up with a unique levy limit. For example:

* Scarsdale and Hendrick Hudson are both increasing their budgets by a greater percentage than Mamaroneck (2.15% and 4.9%, respectively), but their tax levy increases do not exceed their caps.

* Dobbs Ferry and Irvington are both exceeding Mamaroneck's tax levy percent change (3.32% and 3.01%, respectively), but they are not exceeding the cap for their districts and so do not need an override vote.

What happens if the Proposed Budget does not pass?

After two failed votes, the District must make deep cuts

If the Proposed Budget does not pass by a 60% vote, the Board can decide to put the budget back out to the voters at the same amount (which also would require a 60% override), an increased amount or a decreased amount, or can go directly to a contingent budget (sometimes called an austerity budget).

To budget to the 1.04% tax levy cap, the District would need to decrease the Proposed Budget by $1.42 million.

If the budget fails twice, then the District would be forced to go to a contingent budget, which would mean the District could not increase the tax levy from the 2016-2017 dollar amount. For Mamaroneck, this would require a decrease of more than $2.65 million from the Proposed Budget. The District would still maintain its contractual obligations, including those to employees under the collective bargaining agreements.

A reduction in the school budget could result in some or all of the following:

* Instructional staff cuts and class size increases

* Reduced or eliminated electives, music and art, advanced classes and foreign

language options and other non-mandated programs

* Cuts to sports programs, clubs and other extracurriculars

ENROLLMENT

The demographic study conducted in 2010 turned out to be inaccurate. What steps have been taken to better predict enrollment?

Using new forecasting software to make better predictions

The District is currently using the Forecast 5 analytics tool and the Cohort Survival Enrollment Model to generate K -12 enrollment projections for the next four academic years. The Cohort Survival Model, which projects future students by grade, is considered very reliable and is utilized by state and federal departments of education and the U.S. Census Bureau for reporting purposes.

Using these enrollment data, we have applied class size guidelines to enrollment projections and assessed capacity levels for each school through the year 2021. The projections for the past 2 years have reliably predicted the increased enrollment that we are seeing as new families move to the District.

Is there enough space in the buildings to accommodate increased enrollment?

Yes

With regard to space concerns, the District has the capacity and ability to shift smaller instructional support classrooms to other areas within a particular building in order to accommodate additional classroom sections. Special classes can also be reassigned to a different building if necessary. For example, for the 2017-2018 school year we likely will be reassigning the current pre-K class at Chatsworth to another school to free up space for an additional class section.

What steps is the District taking to address enrollment longer term?

Enrollment increases forecasted to level off; if that changes, the community will be involved in examining possible solutions

We do not see any enrollment problems on the horizon. We are always keeping an eye on enrollment using our forecasting model plus information we receive regularly from our building administrators and central registration staff.

Should we begin experiencing larger increases, we will involve the community in a discussion of next steps. Possible solutions could include acquiring additional space, construction, redrawing school zones, increasing class sizes, or changing the neighborhood school model.

What are the class size guidelines for elementary schools? Why do some classes have more students than are outlined in the guidelines?

Class size guidelines remain the same, but are sometimes impacted by the individual cohorts of each grade and school

We have tried hard over the course of the tax levy cap law to prioritize staffing and resources that are closest to the classroom. Although enrollment is growing, our class size guidelines have not changed in several years. For Central, Chatsworth and Murray Avenue elementary schools, the guidelines are 22 students for grades K-1, 25 for grades 2-3, and 26 for grades 4-5. Several years ago, the Board of Education reduced the class size guideline for grade 5 from 27 students to 26.

Mamaroneck Avenue School has separate class size guidelines, which are slightly lower for all grades, except for the dual language classes in grades K-3, where the guidelines are 24 students. MAS guidelines in the non-dual language classes are 19 students for Kindergarten, 21 for grades 1-3, and 24 for grades 4-5.

The Board of Education views the average class enrollment size as “guidelines” and not hard numbers, but we do everything reasonably possible to adhere to class size guidelines prior to the start of the school year.

Individual classes may be higher if, for example, students move to the community after classes have been assigned on August 15. Also, because of our neighborhood school model, the actual size of a class in a particular grade in a particular year varies from school to school.

Since 2012-13 we have added 31 certified teachers, and this year, we are adding two teachers at Chatsworth and one at Mamaroneck Avenue to adhere to class size guidelines. In addition, the Proposed Budget includes two contingency teaching positions to account for the possibility of adding class sections after the budget has been approved. The Board will review class sizes at a meeting to be scheduled in 2017-2018. All Board of Education meetings are noticed and open to the public.

STAFFING

Does the Proposed Budget address increasing enrollment?

Yes, with targeted increases and reductions

The Proposed Budget includes the addition of three full-time employees (FTEs) – two teachers at Chatsworth and one at MAS – to address increasing enrollment in our neighborhood elementary schools. There are also two “contingency” elementary teaching positions in case we need to open new classes after the budget was finalized. At MHS the budget adds a 0.2 teacher to support Original Science Research, and an academic liaison teacher and a psychologist to support a redesigned APPLE program.

Eight teaching positions and one teaching assistant position have been eliminated for the following reasons:

* 4 teachers, a 0.6 director, and a teaching assistant because of changes to the APPLE program (See below for more information about APPLE).

* 1 Art teacher at MHS because of shifting student interest in electives.

* 2.4 special education teaching positions because of changing student needs (for example, some students in a self-contained class this year will be moving into other classes next year).

Eliminating a position is not the same as eliminating a teacher. For example, although the positions of the APPLE program director, teachers and teaching assistant have been eliminated, the people who currently are in those positions will still be working at the high school with students from APPLE and other students.

Does the Proposed Budget really give Superintendent Shaps a 6% raise so that his salary is $396,000?

Dr. Shaps’ salary remains flat next year, at $271,922

Turning to page 47 of the Budget Book, the total budget for the “1240” Superintendent code shows that the $ 397,103 budgeted for this item includes a number of items besides the Superintendent's salary, including classified (clerical) salaries.

Dr. Shaps' salary for 2017-2018 is $271,922, the same as 2015-2016 and 2016-2017. (For comparison, Bronxville -- a smaller district with fewer than 1700 students in just three schools -- announced in March that its new superintendent will start with a base salary of $275,000.) Dr. Shaps received a merit bonus of $4,079 for 2015-16 and will receive a retention bonus in the amount of $21,000 upon the successful completion.

Why does the Proposed Budget include the addition of an Assistant Superintendent for Student Support Services?

Restoring a position left vacant after the previous Assistant Superintendent retired to support the needs of 1000+ students

Restructuring Student Support Services to include an Assistant Superintendent ensures adequate supervision and professional development for the 100+ employees who work to develop programs and support the academic and emotional needs of all students, including the more than 1000 students who need additional support through early intervention and special education services.

We believe the addition will improve the educational experience for our students; in addition, the restructuring will reduce costs for supervision and ensure compliance with legal mandates.

What accounts for the reduction in school aides?

Improved scheduling means fewer hours worked

The reduction is attributable to a reallocation of aides and a reduction of aide hours, achieved through improved scheduling (coordination of aide assignments and time used) and based on the individual needs of the four elementary schools.

Beyond supporting classrooms, aides are assigned to libraries, health offices, playgrounds, etc., and we continue to explore scheduling efficiencies that allow for more effective deployment of aides.

This year we have added three school monitors whose primary function will be to supervise the middle school cafeteria and campus.

APPLE

What is APPLE?

A school-within-a-school program at MHS

APPLE is a school-within-a-school program at Mamaroneck High School that provides smaller class sizes and individualized attention to students in grades 9-12 deemed at risk of failing to graduate from high school. It was designed to accommodate up to 64 students. Students are invited to enter the program if they are struggling after their first quarter at MHS. Currently, 45 students are enrolled in APPLE, including 9 seniors.

The following full-time employees (FTEs) currently are attached to the program: a 0.6 FTE program director; 4.0 teachers; 1.0 teaching assistant; 0.2 special educator; 0.5 social worker and 0.5 secretary.

English, math, science and social studies classes are taught by APPLE teachers; students attend “main school” elective, physical education, World language and health classes. There is a daily Academic Intervention Services (AIS) period and bi-monthly group counseling sessions.

Why is the current APPLE program being changed?

APPLE is being redesigned for greater flexibility in order to provide additional therapeutic support and to serve more students

A review of the APPLE program was conducted this year, prompted in part by falling enrollment in APPLE in recent years. For example, this year only 9 of 34 ninth graders who were invited to participate in APPLE elected to enroll. As part of the review, administrators identified a wide variety of unmet therapeutic needs in students, including some who were in APPLE. The State now requires APPLE students to take the same Regents courses as their classmates in the main school. Although APPLE was initially intended to address the needs of students who were at risk of not graduating, 96% of students in main school have received diplomas over the past ten years. The rate for APPLE students is slightly higher -- 97% -- but data collected by the National Student Clearinghouse show that APPLE students are less likely to graduate from college than their non-APPLE peers with similar grades, Regents scores and demographic characteristics. The District also has been concerned about the increasingly large number of students with similar academic and social emotional needs as students in APPLE who are not enrolled in APPLE (including, for example, the 25 students who were recommended for APPLE this year but elected not to enroll).

Superintendent Robert Shaps recommended a redesigned program that would be more fluid, flexible and proactive to better serve our students. The Board of Education considered feedback from APPLE students, families and alumni, as well as additional information from Dr. Shaps describing how APPLE students would be supported properly in the transition and in the fall. (See pages 21-30 from the March 21 meeting presentation for more information. Ultimately, the Board decided to accept the recommendation to pursue a redesigned APPLE program. The redesigned program will allow for customization of students' schedules, small classes (some co-taught) and "hand" scheduling to minimize students traveling throughout the building. The addition of regular supports by a full-time psychologist and a full-time academic liaison -- two new positions -- in the APPLE suite will allow a more individualized and proactive approach. The redesigned program will also include the half-time social worker who currently works with the students.

Under the new approach, APPLE students will have increased opportunities to participate in rigorous classes including college level courses, as well as more elective choices to engage their individual interests and passions. Efforts are being made to schedule current APPLE students with at least one of their former teachers, all of whom will remain employed at the high school.

The Superintendent will report out to the community about the redesign at a Board of Education meeting next year. All Board meetings are noticed and open to the public.

Will the APPLE program in its current form be brought back if the Proposed Budget does not pass?

No

Dr. Shaps has stated publicly that if the Proposed Budget is defeated, he will not recommend the reinstatement of the current APPLE program, because his recommended changes to the program were motivated by educational reasons and not by budgetary concerns.

FEDERAL POLICY

How will changes in federal policy impact funding for our schools?

Some proposals, few changes

Federal education policy has changed very little so far under the new administration. It is too early to speculate whether President Trump’s pledges to expand school choice using public funds will gain any traction in Congress.

The administration’s proposed budget cuts funding for the Education Department about 13%. The two largest federal K-12 programs-- Title I, which supports education for low-income students, and IDEA, which supports special education--have not been reduced. Our District receives funding from both IDEA and Title I.

In the budget, President Trump proposed to increase Title I funding by $1 billion, with the money following students to the public/charter school of their choice. $250 million in new spending is designated to support a new voucher program to help families pay the cost of attending private school. So far, Congress and the Administration have not made any moves on legislation advancing these ideas.

To put things in perspective, federal funding adds up to about 8% of total spending on public schools in the United States.

BUDGET DEVELOPMENT

Click links at top of page to see content for these Q&A topic categories: Budget Development, Taxes and the Tax Levy Cap, Enrollment, Staffing, APPLE and Federal Policy.

TAXES AND THE TAX LEVY CAP

What is the tax cap?

A limit on the funds our District can raise through property taxes

The tax cap is really a tax levy cap -- a cap on the ability of a school district to grow its tax levy (the taxes it collects from its community). The tax cap law, enacted in 2011, provides that a school district can exceed the cap if 60% of the voters approve the "override."

The tax levy cap is based on a formula set by the State. One of the variables in the formula is the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or 2%, whichever is less. For the 2017-2018 budget, the CPI was 1.26%, which resulted in a tax levy cap of 1.04% for Mamaroneck after applying the formula. Although the Proposed Budget is increasing only 1.46% over the prior year's budget, that modest increase in budget results in a tax levy increase of 2.25%, which requires an override of 60% voter approval to pass.

To see how the tax levy cap was calculated for Mamaroneck, see page 11 of the
March 7, 2017 presentation.

How will this year’s school budget impact my real property taxes?

Your school taxes likely will go down if your assessment stayed flat or decreased

The District advises the Town of Mamaroneck as to the amount of money we need to collect from taxpayers (the tax levy). The Town then collects it for all three municipalities, using the assessed value for each property to determine each taxpayer's property tax.

The Town has advised that the total property valuation has increased, in part as a result of additional properties. This has led to a projected tax rate decrease of 0.94% per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

If a property's assessment has increased, it is possible that the school taxes on that property might increase even though the tax rate is estimated to decrease. If a homeowner's assessment stayed the same or went down, then their school taxes should go down. Each homeowner can figure out their own taxes by taking the tax rate per $1,000, multiplying by their property's assessed value, and then dividing by 1,000.

Does exceeding the tax levy cap impact my STAR rebate?

Qualified taxpayers will still get STAR rebates but will not get the property tax relief credit

Exceeding the tax levy cap does not have an impact on either of the STAR programs (Basic or Enhanced). If you qualify for a STAR rebate, you will still receive one. But because the District is exceeding the cap, homeowners will not be eligible for the State's property tax relief credit. Beginning in 2017, the property tax relief credit will be a percentage of a homeowner’s STAR benefit, with lower incomes receiving a higher percentage benefit.

Why does the District need to override the tax cap levy this year?

Deeper cuts would erode quality of District programs

Based on the tax levy cap formula, if the District budgeted under the cap we would be allowed to increase our 2016-2017 budget by only about $500,000. This would not cover increased contractual health care and salary expenses, special education costs and new hires to address rising enrollment. In addition, because we drew on reserves to support revenues last year and lost some other revenues, we started the budget process with a revenue hole of approximately $700,000.

As Dr. Shaps noted in his budget letter to the community [add link], in order to continue to preserve and invest in our District’s programs and experiences, maintain current class size guidelines, and achieve our District goals, we are turning to the community to approve a budget that exceeds the cap.

Will subsequent school budgets require an override?

Probably not in the near term, but uncertain

By increasing the budget beyond the tax levy cap this year, we are building a higher base from which to build future budgets. This will help us prepare, for example, for the likelihood that we will need to add another academic team (5 teachers) to the Hommocks Middle School for the 2019-2020 school year to accommodate the very large group of students currently in third grade.

The higher base will make the need for an override less likely in future years. We don't have a crystal ball, however; unexpected enrollment increases, higher costs, or lower revenue from sources like State Aid could lead the District to seek an override down the road.

Why does the school budget keep going up? What measures have been taken to control spending?

Enrollment, contractual obligations and mandated special education costs drive increases; budgets have grown conservatively and decreased when possible

Our school budget increases are largely driven by increasing enrollment, contractual obligations for employee salaries and benefits, and rising mandated special education costs.

Since 2011-2012, our budget actually decreased twice. We have kept costs down through staff cuts outside the classroom, outsourcing, and by using reserves. We have negotiated changes to our employee contracts, leading to both short-term and long-term savings. We also have saved money by switching from a premium-based health care plan to self-insured plan.

Since 2011-2012, including this year’s proposed budget, the average annual budget change has been 1.26%. In fact, in the previous five years, we have proposed budgets below the tax levy cap. If the District had budgeted to the cap in each of those years, we would have collected almost $14 million more from taxpayers.

Can we compare our budget and tax levy increase to other Westchester districts?

It’s apples and oranges; different districts have different tax levy caps

Each school district applies the tax levy cap formula to come up with a unique levy limit. For example:

* Scarsdale and Hendrick Hudson are both increasing their budgets by a greater percentage than Mamaroneck (2.15% and 4.9%, respectively), but their tax levy increases do not exceed their caps.

* Dobbs Ferry and Irvington are both exceeding Mamaroneck's tax levy percent change (3.32% and 3.01%, respectively), but they are not exceeding the cap for their districts and so do not need an override vote.

What happens if the Proposed Budget does not pass?

After two failed votes, the District must make deep cuts

If the Proposed Budget does not pass by a 60% vote, the Board can decide to put the budget back out to the voters at the same amount (which also would require a 60% override), an increased amount or a decreased amount, or can go directly to a contingent budget (sometimes called an austerity budget).

To budget to the 1.04% tax levy cap, the District would need to decrease the Proposed Budget by $1.42 million.

If the budget fails twice, then the District would be forced to go to a contingent budget, which would mean the District could not increase the tax levy from the 2016-2017 dollar amount. For Mamaroneck, this would require a decrease of more than $2.65 million from the Proposed Budget. The District would still maintain its contractual obligations, including those to employees under the collective bargaining agreements.

A reduction in the school budget could result in some or all of the following:

* Instructional staff cuts and class size increases

* Reduced or eliminated electives, music and art, advanced classes and foreign

language options and other non-mandated programs

* Cuts to sports programs, clubs and other extracurriculars

ENROLLMENT

The demographic study conducted in 2010 turned out to be inaccurate. What steps have been taken to better predict enrollment?

Using new forecasting software to make better predictions

The District is currently using the Forecast 5 analytics tool and the Cohort Survival Enrollment Model to generate K -12 enrollment projections for the next four academic years. The Cohort Survival Model, which projects future students by grade, is considered very reliable and is utilized by state and federal departments of education and the U.S. Census Bureau for reporting purposes.

Using these enrollment data, we have applied class size guidelines to enrollment projections and assessed capacity levels for each school through the year 2021. The projections for the past 2 years have reliably predicted the increased enrollment that we are seeing as new families move to the District.

Is there enough space in the buildings to accommodate increased enrollment?

Yes

With regard to space concerns, the District has the capacity and ability to shift smaller instructional support classrooms to other areas within a particular building in order to accommodate additional classroom sections. Special classes can also be reassigned to a different building if necessary. For example, for the 2017-2018 school year we likely will be reassigning the current pre-K class at Chatsworth to another school to free up space for an additional class section.

What steps is the District taking to address enrollment longer term?

Enrollment increases forecasted to level off; if that changes, the community will be involved in examining possible solutions

We do not see any enrollment problems on the horizon. We are always keeping an eye on enrollment using our forecasting model plus information we receive regularly from our building administrators and central registration staff.

Should we begin experiencing larger increases, we will involve the community in a discussion of next steps. Possible solutions could include acquiring additional space, construction, redrawing school zones, increasing class sizes, or changing the neighborhood school model.

What are the class size guidelines for elementary schools? Why do some classes have more students than are outlined in the guidelines?

Class size guidelines remain the same, but are sometimes impacted by the individual cohorts of each grade and school

We have tried hard over the course of the tax levy cap law to prioritize staffing and resources that are closest to the classroom. Although enrollment is growing, our class size guidelines have not changed in several years. For Central, Chatsworth and Murray Avenue elementary schools, the guidelines are 22 students for grades K-1, 25 for grades 2-3, and 26 for grades 4-5. Several years ago, the Board of Education reduced the class size guideline for grade 5 from 27 students to 26.

Mamaroneck Avenue School has separate class size guidelines, which are slightly lower for all grades, except for the dual language classes in grades K-3, where the guidelines are 24 students. MAS guidelines in the non-dual language classes are 19 students for Kindergarten, 21 for grades 1-3, and 24 for grades 4-5.

The Board of Education views the average class enrollment size as “guidelines” and not hard numbers, but we do everything reasonably possible to adhere to class size guidelines prior to the start of the school year.

Individual classes may be higher if, for example, students move to the community after classes have been assigned on August 15. Also, because of our neighborhood school model, the actual size of a class in a particular grade in a particular year varies from school to school.

Since 2012-13 we have added 31 certified teachers, and this year, we are adding two teachers at Chatsworth and one at Mamaroneck Avenue to adhere to class size guidelines. In addition, the Proposed Budget includes two contingency teaching positions to account for the possibility of adding class sections after the budget has been approved. The Board will review class sizes at a meeting to be scheduled in 2017-2018. All Board of Education meetings are noticed and open to the public.

STAFFING

Does the Proposed Budget address increasing enrollment?

Yes, with targeted increases and reductions

The Proposed Budget includes the addition of three full-time employees (FTEs) – two teachers at Chatsworth and one at MAS – to address increasing enrollment in our neighborhood elementary schools. There are also two “contingency” elementary teaching positions in case we need to open new classes after the budget was finalized. At MHS the budget adds a 0.2 teacher to support Original Science Research, and an academic liaison teacher and a psychologist to support a redesigned APPLE program.

Eight teaching positions and one teaching assistant position have been eliminated for the following reasons:

* 4 teachers, a 0.6 director, and a teaching assistant because of changes to the APPLE program (See below for more information about APPLE).

* 1 Art teacher at MHS because of shifting student interest in electives.

* 2.4 special education teaching positions because of changing student needs (for example, some students in a self-contained class this year will be moving into other classes next year).

Eliminating a position is not the same as eliminating a teacher. For example, although the positions of the APPLE program director, teachers and teaching assistant have been eliminated, the people currently who are in those positions will still be working at the high school with students from APPLE and other students.

Does the Proposed Budget really give Superintendent Shaps a 6% raise so that his salary is $396,000?

Dr. Shaps’ salary remains flat next year, at $271,922

Turning to page 47 of the Budget Book, the total budget for the “1240” Superintendent code shows that the $ 397,103 budgeted for this item includes a number of items besides the Superintendent's salary, including classified (clerical) salaries.

Dr. Shaps' salary for 2017-2018 is $271,922, the same as 2015-2016 and 2016-2017. (For comparison, Bronxville -- a smaller district with fewer than 1700 students in just three schools -- announced in March that its new superintendent will start with a base salary of $275,000.) Dr. Shaps received a merit bonus of $4,079 for 2015-16 and will receive a retention bonus in the amount of $21,000 upon the successful completion.

Why does the Proposed Budget include the addition of an Assistant Superintendent for Student Support Services?

Restoring a position left vacant after the previous Assistant Superintendent retired to support the needs of 1000+ students

Restructuring Student Support Services to include an Assistant Superintendent ensures adequate supervision and professional development for the 100+ employees who work to develop programs and support the academic and emotional needs of all students, including the more than 1000 students who need additional support through early intervention and special education services.

We believe the addition will improve the educational experience for our students; in addition, the restructuring will reduce costs for supervision and ensure compliance with legal mandates.

What accounts for the reduction in school aides?

Improved scheduling means fewer hours worked

The reduction is attributable to a reallocation of aides and a reduction of aide hours, achieved through improved scheduling (coordination of aide assignments and time used) and based on the individual needs of the four elementary schools.

Beyond supporting classrooms, aides are assigned to libraries, health offices, playgrounds, etc., and we continue to explore scheduling efficiencies that allow for more effective deployment of aides.

This year we have added three school monitors whose primary function will be to supervise the middle school cafeteria and campus.

APPLE

What is APPLE?

A school-within-a-school program at MHS

APPLE is a school-within-a-school program at Mamaroneck High School that provides smaller class sizes and individualized attention to students in grades 9-12 deemed at risk of failing to graduate from high school. It was designed to accommodate up to 64 students. Students are invited to enter the program if they are struggling after their first quarter at MHS. Currently, 45 students are enrolled in APPLE, including 9 seniors.

The following full-time employees (FTEs) currently are attached to the program: a 0.6 FTE program director; 4.0 teachers; 1.0 teaching assistant; 0.2 special educator; 0.5 social worker and 0.5 secretary.

English, math, science and social studies classes are taught by APPLE teachers; students attend “main school” elective, physical education, World language and health classes. There is a daily Academic Intervention Services (AIS) period and bi-monthly group counseling sessions.

Why is the current APPLE program being changed?

APPLE is being redesigned for greater flexibility in order to provide additional therapeutic support and to serve more students

A review of the APPLE program was conducted this year, prompted in part by falling enrollment in APPLE in recent years. For example, this year only 9 of 34 ninth graders who were invited to participate in APPLE elected to enroll. As part of the review, administrators identified a wide variety of unmet therapeutic needs in students, including some who were in APPLE. The State now requires APPLE students to take the same Regents courses as their classmates in the main school. Although APPLE was initially intended to address the needs of students who were at risk of not graduating, 96% of students in main school have received diplomas over the past ten years. The rate for APPLE students is slightly higher -- 97% -- but data collected by the National Student Clearinghouse show that APPLE students are less likely to graduate from college than their non-APPLE peers with similar grades, Regents scores and demographic characteristics. The District also has been concerned about the increasingly large number of students with similar academic and social emotional needs as students in APPLE who are not enrolled in APPLE (including, for example, the 25 students who were recommended for APPLE this year but elected not to enroll).

Superintendent Robert Shaps recommended a redesigned program that would be more fluid, flexible and proactive to better serve our students. The Board of Education considered feedback from APPLE students, families and alumni, as well as additional information from Dr. Shaps describing how APPLE students would be supported properly in the transition and in the fall. (See pages 21-30 from the March 21 meeting presentation for more information [add link]). Ultimately, the Board decided to accept the recommendation to pursue a redesigned APPLE program. The redesigned program will allow for customization of students' schedules, small classes (some co-taught) and "hand" scheduling to minimize students traveling throughout the building. The addition of regular supports by a full-time psychologist and a full-time academic liaison -- two new positions -- in the APPLE suite will allow a more individualized and proactive approach. The redesigned program will also include the half-time social worker who currently works with the students.

Under the new approach, APPLE students will have increased opportunities to participate in rigorous classes including college level courses, as well as more elective choices to engage their individual interests and passions. Efforts are being made to schedule current APPLE students with at least one of their former teachers, all of whom will remain employed at the high school.

The Superintendent will report out to the community about the redesign at a Board of Education meeting next year. All Board meetings are noticed and open to the public.

Will the APPLE program in its current form be brought back if the Proposed Budget does not pass?

No

Dr. Shaps has stated publicly that if the Proposed Budget is defeated, he will not recommend the reinstatement of the current APPLE program, because his recommended changes to the program were motivated by educational reasons and not by budgetary concerns.

FEDERAL POLICY

How will changes in federal policy impact funding for our schools?

Some proposals, few changes

Federal education policy has changed very little so far under the new administration. It is too early to speculate whether President Trump’s pledges to expand school choice using public funds will gain any traction in Congress.

The administration’s proposed budget cuts funding for the Education Department about 13%. The two largest federal K-12 programs-- Title I, which supports education for low-income students, and IDEA, which supports special education--have not been reduced. Our District receives funding from both IDEA and Title I.

In the budget, President Trump proposed to increase Title I funding by $1 billion, with the money following students to the public/charter school of their choice. $250 million in new spending is designated to support a new voucher program to help families pay the cost of attending private school. So far, Congress and the Administration have not made any moves on legislation advancing these ideas.

To put things in perspective, federal funding adds up to about 8% of total spending on public schools in the United States.

Budget Fact Sheet

Budget Newsletter

Budget E-News: April 19, 2017 - 2017-2018 Proposed Budget
Printed Budget Newsletter (mailed to all Larchmont & Mamaroneck residents)

Key Points/Slides Used at Budget Meetings

Budget Presentations

Press Releases

2017-2018 Proposed Budget

2017-18 Proposed Budget document in its entirety (The Proposed Budget was adopted by the Board of Education on April 18, 2017, and will be voted on by the community on Tuesday, May 16, 2017.)

Previous Year Budgets




Contact Information

Department of Public Information

Debbie Manetta, Director of Public Information

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