Education, Lead Stories

Rye City school budget easily passes test

The Rye City School District’s proposed 2017-2018 budget passed the test, with 83 percent of residents voting in favor of the plan, according to unofficial results.

The $86.9 million school budget stays under the state-mandated tax cap, and adds approximately $1.8 million in spending, or 2.19 percent, over the 2016-2017 budget.

A total of 1,534 budget votes were cast on Tuesday, May16, with 1,275 “yes” votes and 259 “no” votes.

“This was the least controversial budget I’ve ever worked through,” interim Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian Monahan told the Review. “[The school board] really did not have a single negative comment during the several months we have discussed it with the public.”

Monahan added that the widespread support for the budget was because it was fair to taxpayers, and provided students with needed programs without any cuts, as all current programs will be maintained, “but with minor additions.”

The estimated tax levy increased by 2.64 percent. The estimated tax rate per $1,000 of assessed value is $607.05, a 1.99 percent increase from the current year.

“I think the fact that the community so overwhelmingly supported this budget is really a tribute to our teachers and staff,” Monahan said. “People are happy with the education their children are getting.”

With student enrollment having steadily increased over the past decade, the budget also calls for 11.4 new positions districtwide, including two new faculty members for the English and a New Language program, one psychologist and one occupational therapist.

Salaries increase in the 2017-2018 budget by more than $2 million dollars from the current budget, making up approximately 54 percent of the budget. “Salaries and benefits are the big part of our budget because we’re in the people business,” Monahan said.

The budget also utilized $2.1 million from reserves to help balance it, a number which is less than what was used for the current budget. “[The school board feels] like we budgeted more carefully and closer to reality,” Monahan said.

In other news, Board of Education members Karen Belanger and Blake Jines-Storey both retained their seats on the board in uncontested elections. Belanger received 1,276 votes and Jines-Storey 1,109 votes. Both board members will now serve new three-year terms.

Belanger has children in the school district, and is chairwoman of the Board of Education’s Audit and Policy committees. Jines-Storey, who also has children in the district, is chairman of the Technology Committee.

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