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Pelham Board, Parents, Teachers Discuss Budget

PELHAM, N.Y. – The Pelham Board of Education discussed the preliminary 2012-13 Pelham Union Free School District Budget in front of parents, local principals and teachers on Saturday. The board went through each line of the budget and several members gave presentations during the event, which lasted from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Several parents came up at various times throughout the event to ask questions on class sizes, the positions being cut and technical questions about the budget.

In response to class size, which the board has estimated will increase for each grade during the 2012-13 school year, they said that changes would be made if necessary, but they have faith in their projected numbers.

The board expects 20.7 students in the kindergarten through second grade classes, 20.9 students in third to fifth grade classes and 20.8 students from sixth to twelfth grade classes.

In order to save money, Superintendent Dr. Dennis Lauro, Jr. has recommended using $500,000 of the Employee Retirement System (ERA) reserves. In his budget proposal, he said that money “will help to mitigate the tax increase to our community and allow the district to balance the budget.” Lauro has also decided to not take a pay raise that would have come during the next school year in order to yield the best possible budget.

The budget will increase 3.69 percent from the 2011-12 ($63,189,318) figure to a higher 2012-13 ($65,523,020) number, according to the preliminary budget paperwork. In addition, 9.1 positions will be cut, including a nurse, custodian, the director of elementary education Dr. Richard Limato, the athletic director Joe DelVecchio and retiring teachers or those who have resigned.

Lauro said that the Pelham School District is cost effective, as evidenced by ranking 38th out of 46 other districts in overall cost per student and 26th out of 46 other districts in instructional costs.

The superintendent has also pushed for a nine-period schedule instead of the eight-period schedule used today in Pelham schools, which is expected to save $175,000 to $200,000.

While the preliminary budget may be tweaked over the coming months by the board of education and community input, a vote on the budget will take place on May 15. The next Pelham Board of Education budget meeting will take place on Monday, March 12 at 8 p.m. in the Pelham Middle School Library.

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