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Port Chester Schools Adopt Budget, Cut Teachers

PORT CHESTER, N.Y. – The Port Chester-Rye Union Free School District Board of Education adopted a 2012-13 budget that cuts 13.5 reading positions and one teacher's aid from the district faculty.

The tax cap compliant budget proposes a property tax cap levy increase of 2.70 percent for a total levy of $56,725,494. The total budget passed by the board weighs in at $81,320,560, a 2.22 percent budget increase from last year's adopted budget.

In June of last year, state lawmakers passed legislation that placed a 2 percent cap on the increases property tax collectors could levy on citizens. Although the cap is known as the 2 percent tax cap, the formula used to calculate each individual school district or municipality's cap fluctuates both north and south of the 2 percent figure.

The adopted budget is almost identical to the budget presented to the public at the board's March 29 meeting . The only new change in financials reported by Superintendent Edward Kliszus was a $374,000 bump in state aid.

Kliszus continued to urge members of the public to register and vote in favor of the budget on May 15. If the budget does not pass the first vote, the board will be allotted one more vote before adopting the contingency budget, which proposes an additional $1.5 million in cuts.

"It's critical that people participate in the vote on the 15th," Kliszus said. "I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for our citizens to come out and speak."

Although the evening was grim, there was a glimmer of hope as the district announced that negotiations between the school board and the teacher's union of PCTA are no longer at an impasse. According to Board member Carolee Brakewood, the board representatives and the PCTA representatives met twice this week without the help of a mediator.

"People are talking and that's a positive," Board member Bob Johnson said.

While the budget passed by a 7-0 vote, members of the board expressed their discomfort with cutting more than 14 full-time positions.

"As the public can tell this has been a very solemn meeting," board President Blanca Lopez said. "There are a lot of things going on and we are always hopeful for a brighter tomorrow."

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