School budget update

Budget Update Community In Support of Public Education April 5, 2010

We hope everyone had a wonderful spring break.  Just before break, on Tuesday, March 23, Rhinebeck’s Board of Education reviewed a second version of proposed cuts for next school year. Quite a few community members were present and several expressed concern that the the elementary school is being asked to bear more than its fair share including 2 teachers, 1 aide, and a computer teacher.  You can see the complete list of proposed cuts and reductions at the school district’s website,  http://www.rhinebeckcsd.org/schoolboard.cfm?subpage=976245.  Click on “Budget” and then “Options for budget reductions.”
This is a complicated, no-win situation and while many continue to have questions about why the Board and administration prefer some cuts to others, we recognize that they are doing the best they can.  Some of us would like to offer alternative proposals, but the tight timeline presents a challenge to doing so responsibly. 

Questions have also been raised about salaries and benefits, which make up a large proportion of any school budget. Due to state law and negotiated contracts, these costs are not necessarily subject to cuts by local boards. We understand Rhinebeck’s BOE has been in touch with all three unions. Watch for more on this topic.

What’s Next? Whether or not we agree with all the choices the BOE ultimately makes, CISPE expects to campaign for a “yes” vote on the budget if for no other reason than the alternative will be worse – an “austerity” budget with even more cuts! A planning meeting will be announced soon. We hope other parent and community groups will join us.  Dates to keep in mind:  

  • Public hearing, Tues., April 13, 7 p.m., middle/high school library. The BOE is likely to adopt a budget following the hearing. 
  • Regular BOE meeting, Tues., April 20, 7:30 p.m., middle/high school library. Any budget matters pending from the meeting on the 13th will probably be addressed here. 
  • Budget vote, Tues., May 18, 2-9 p.m., middle school cafeteria.  

For more information.  A background piece describing how the current fiscal situation affects our schools plus answers to frequently asked questions.  Both are on the district’s web site; click “Preparing for Difficult Times” or  “Frequently Asked Questions.” The Q&A includes a response to incorrect information recently published in Hudson Valley Magazine. To learn more about connections between state and local school funding, the BOE recommends “Shortchanging Students: How the State Budget Crisis Will Change Our Schools,” (8 pages) published by the NYS School Boards Association and the Council of School Superintendents, http://www.nyssba.org/index.php?src=news&srctype=detail&category=Reports&refno=1282.