Friday, January 20, 2012

Proposed 2012-13 Budget Exceeds Tax Cap by $844, 296

At the January meeting, Assistant Superintendent Dan Carlin gave the Bronxville Board of Education a preview of the proposed 2012-13 school budget. For the past three years, the budget to budget increases have hovered around 0%, reflecting a series of cost containment measures, including outsourcing custodians, clerical reductions, retirement incentives, not filling vacancies, and other productivity moves. Most recently, new collective bargaining agreements with the Bronxville Teachers Association have slowed down the rate of growth with general wage increases of 0%, 1%, and 1.25% over a three-year period.

Now the District faces a 2% tax levy cap.  Carlin explained that the rollover budget -- offering the same programs and services next year --  exceeds the cap by about $844,296. External requirements for retirement contributions and health insurance drive up costs. Other factors include the end of certain federal grants and unfunded mandates (such as private school transportation and some special education provisions). The Board also must confront the additional pressure of flood-related insurance costs.

The overall situation facing the Board is that the cost containment process has become increasingly difficult over time: extensive program reductions and changes in scope of service will be necessary to meet the 2% cap. The Board begins its review process on Saturday, February 4 at 9 AM in the Board room. The meeting is open to the public.

Quattrone Proposes 2012-2013 School Calendar

Superintendent David Quattrone unveiled the draft school calendar for 2012-13 at January's Board of Education meeting.  The first day of school for students will  be Tuesday, September 4; the last day will be Friday, June 21, 2013.

Many factors govern the shape of the school year, including state regulations, collective bargaining agreements, federal and religious holidays, and idiosyncrasies of the particular year. For the purposes of  state aid, the school year cannot begin prior to September 1. New York's State Department of Education has tentatively set Regents Rating Day for June 21, 2013. These two milestones set the beginning and end of the school year.  Within those boundaries the District schedules 182 student days. The District also schedules three conference days for professional development. Next year those days will be Friday, November 9 (This results in a four day weekend for students.). The two remaining conference days are planned for the two days following the last day for students, June 24 and 25.

The proposed calendar will be circulated to the public and school councils for comment, and the Board will review the calendar at its February meeting. For the draft calendar, click here.

Architects Present Renovation Plans for Auditorium, MS Science Labs

In January 2011 the Bronxville Board of Education approved a new five-year capital plan, based on the building conditions survey conducted by our architects, KG&D. In addition to infrastructure improvements, the plan envisioned renovations of the School's auditorium and Middle School science labs. The Board then authorized our architects to work with the facilities committee to complete schematic designs for these renovations. Erik Kaeyer and Erik Wilson of KG&D presented those designs to the Board at this month's meeting.

The next steps in the process will be to develop a financing plan -- including private sources, obtain Board and voter approval for the projects, complete design development, and get state approval.

Auditorium Renovations
After ten years of feasibility studies and discussion, a plan to renovate the School's auditorium has emerged with strong support from the District's facilities committee. Board members, school officials, faculty, parents, and PTA and Foundation representatives comprise the committee. Earlier plans, sidetracked by the 2007 flood, have been substantially revised to address concerns about seating capacity, aesthetics, and the multifaceted use of the space for teaching, performance, and assembly.

The district assembled a design team to develop the plan, including our architects (KG&D), theater consultants (Theater Projects), acousticians (Acoustic Dimensions), and various other engineering and equipment specialists. Beginning this past September, the team reviewed usage patterns, analyzed survey results, and tested various designs before creating the final plan.  This plan involves gutting the interior space in order to make a number of major, significant improvements to the facility:

  • Improved sight lines and acoustics.
  • Seating capacity for 508, encompassing larger seats and more space between rows for reasons of both comfort and egress.
  • A side lobby that greatly improves access and traffic patterns, including a access to the band room.
  • Restoration of the original windows and harmony with the building's internal and exterior architecture
  • Air conditioning.
The total estimated cost for this project is $7.5 million, coming from a combination of private and public sources.  The PTA is organizing its spring fund-raising efforts around this project, and the Foundation has also expressed interest in making a major contribution.

 Upgrading Middle School Science Labs

District architects KG&D also presented a schematic design for renovating Middle School Science labs.  Working with the School's science teachers, the architects developed a plan to enlarge classrooms, modernize cabinets and lab stations, and improve seating configuration, storage, and space for students to work on longer term projects.  The existing labs have not been updated for at least forty years. If approved by voters, the renovation cost is estimated at $2.1 million.

To see the schematic designs, click here.  For a more complete presentation to a group, make an email request to David Quattrone.