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Smith Urges Support for Pelham School Budget

This is the fourth in a series of four articles on the Pelham Board of Education candidates’ thoughts on the 2012-13 school budget. Paul Prencis' views were covered on Tuesday, April 24; Christine Rosskopf's views were covered Sunday, April 22; and Michael Recca's views were covered Thursday, April 19.

PELHAM, N.Y. – Pelham Board of Education candidate Madeline Smith “will definitely be voting” for the 2012-13 school budget. She is now encouraging everyone to do the same, calling it a “good compromise” between the needs of the community and the necessary cuts.

However, “In a perfect world, I would have preferred to found other places to cut rather than losing teachers,” said Smith, who has one son at Colonial Elementary School and a daughter in college.

Three elementary school positions were cut and a fourth was not filled after a teacher resigned to fall within the New York State-mandated 2 percent tax cap. Pelham has an allowable tax levy increase of 3.05 percent because of assessed value growth in the town.

“The board had a tough job of having to balance the desires of the community with the fiscal reality of having to cut approximately $1.4 million from the budget,” said Smith. “Overall, I think the budget is a good compromise, although I would have preferred not to have lost the teachers that we did and hope that we can replace these teachers in a fiscally responsible manner in the future.”

Board members unanimously adopted the $65,560,607 budget, which features a 2.6 percent tax levy increase, at their April 16 meeting in Pelham Memorial High School’s newly dedicated Alumni Hall .

The “board needs to continue the progress it has made in seeking and considering community input because there does seem to be a sense of frustration among some voters,” Smith said. While she said, “the budget did not address all of our concerns,” Smith gave the board credit for balancing a “difficult” budget given the new property tax cap.

“There were strict fiscal constraints in place,” she said. “In addition, the district has three large unfunded mandates that will be going into effect next year, which, together with a cost structure that is rising at a rate that is significantly greater than that of our revenue, makes it extremely difficult to balance a budget.”

Board of Education elections will take place May 15 in addition to the vote on the 2012-13 school year budget from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Pelham Memorial gymnasium. Four candidates are running for two seats. Board President Robert Eicher and member Doug Hearle are not seeking re-election. Smith , Prencis , Rosskopf and Recca are seeking seats on the school board for the first time.

For more information about Smith, visit www.vote4madelinesmith.com or email her at Madelinese@gmail.com .

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