PORT CHESTER, N.Y. -- Port Chester school and village officials are looking at ways that they can slow down overcrowding in the schools.
The Board of Education has passed a resolution, discouraging the villages of Port Chester and Rye Brook from developing any large-scale residential projects that would lead to increases in school enrollment. This includes the proposed Starwood development at the United Hospital site, which could bring in as many as 800 units, as well as potential future developments. The village is also looking at ways to tackle the issue .
"This problem must be attacked intelligently, and it must consist of a number of strategies," said Port Chester Mayor Neil Pagano. He said that the problem is beginning to be addressed through school residency investigations and the village's increased code enforcement. But he said that the village should not discourage residential housing altogether.
"Unless the village encourages smart development, it will not be able to survive. We must have new tax dollars coming in to our respective budgets, we must relieve the burden on our taxpayers, but we must also put into place those safeguard measures that don't unravel the positive side of the ledger."
Pagano said that the village and school district have worked together on possible mitigation strategies, and that the village has sent out a request for proposals for a tipping study that would explore mitigation strategies. These strategies would look at enrollment data and development needs in the village. The hope is that it would encourage mixed-use development in the village, as well as devise formulas so that any development would offset the cost of any increase in school enrollment.
Board of Education member Carolee Brakewood said that increases in assessable properties may bring in additional revenue, but they will not offset costs for the schools.
"The increase in assessables rarely even covers the variable incremental cost of things like hiring additional teachers and staff and buying additional equipment and supplies," she said.
"This next budget period, we're going to have a real issue," said Board of Education President Anne Capeci. "As a Board of Education that has to educate every child in the village, and we're now overcrowded, we're discouraging housing projects."