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PTAs Throw Support Behind Eastchester Budget

EASTCHESTER, N.Y. – A joint meeting of Eastchester's PTAs gave the adopted 2012-2013 school budget a ringing endorsement Tuesday night following a presentation by Superintendent Marilyn Terranova.

Representatives from SEPTA and the PTAs from the town's three elementary schools, middle school and high school packed the high school library to hear the presentation and vote by secret ballot whether to endorse the document. The result was a unanimous vote to recommend passage to the voters when the budget goes before them May 15.

Terranova's presentation highlighted the cuts that were made to bring the budget in under the state's new tax levy cap . Eastchester's adjusted cap figure was 1.98 percent.

Eastchester's final budget proposal calls for $73,757,303 in spending, an increase of $1,527,170 over the current budget. Terranova said the tax rate was not immediately available.

"We started with a rollover budget," Terranova said, not making any cuts or additions but having to pay for mandated salary and benefit increases. "That would have meant a 4.86 percent tax levy increase and we couldn't do that." That's when the cuts began, she said.

Among other things, the initial proposal cut modified sports. Then a staff member announced the intention to retire and the position was left open, with the money used to restore modified sports. Also, the district picked up an additional $250,000 in state aid that was not counted in the budget's first pass, allowing the district to restore some teaching positions to reduce class sizes.

The final result was a reduction of four full-time equivalent (FTE) teaching positions, one FTE guidance counselor, 6.3 FTE teaching aides, five FTE classified staff (no-teaching), a youth counselor and a student assistant counselor. Also, the district restructured the strings and band programs, varsity ice hockey (reduced schedule) and made an agreement with the Eastchester Teachers Association to restructure co-curricular activities and freeze stipends.

Terranova sounded a note of caution, saying some of the cuts went beyond what she believes the district can sustain. "We've reduced the non-instructional staff a lot in the past four years," she said. "We've probably cut too many and we're not going to be able to cut any more next year." She also said that, in recent years, the district has not been able to hire more teachers for a growing school population. "That's just a wake-up call for next year."

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