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POLL: Rye residents voice mixed feelings on proposed $19.9M bond referendum

Rye City school district residents share their opinion about the $19.9M proposed bond vote Tuesday.

Rye City residents have varying opinions on upcoming school bond referendum– Will it be positive or negative for the school district and the Rye community?

The revenue generated from the proposed $19,996,000 dollar bond referendum will be used to construct 16 new classrooms, 12 science labs and 4 general education classrooms. Completion could be completed by the 2014-2015 school year. The district says there is a necessity for more modern learning facilities as well as bathrooms and locker rooms.  

If the bond referendum succeeds, Rye residents will pay an average $47.17 increase in taxes for the first year that will increase to $300 by the year 2015.

Wendy Bafone has children in the middle school and high school: “I am for the bond. I feel that with the amount of kids that need the space, we need the updates for facilities, such as bathrooms, classrooms, nurse’s office. Enrollment has increased greatly.”

Nancy Pasquale, also a school district parent agrees: “The current third grade class is 273 students. At one point, there was a perception or an idea that this enrollment expansion was, in fact, a bubble. The reality is, if you look through that third grade class which would be the Rye High School class of 2021, there’s no decline in enrollment.”

But parent Ed Pellen isn't as enthusiastic: “My biggest concern is the impact…on our houses and taxes…everything’s growing out of proportion.”

But parents aren't the only residents who will vote on the referendum or shoulder its costs. Rye residents without children in the school district also have opinions.

Tom Fendler said: “I’m against the bond issue… I do not think it’s been properly presented…I think it’s been pushed through.” 

Bill Becker thinks under current economic conditions, support for the bond is unrealistic: “I can’t see why they can’t just renovate the classrooms. Why do they have to replace them? If they can teach foreign languages in elementary school, why can’t they juggle the resources that they have in order to do this?”

Parent Nancy Pasquale disagrees with that strategy: “I believe that they have not included anything other than the absolute core needs, so that there’s room for kids to sit in desks and get the public education they deserve. I think every child in Rye, regardless of income, should have the ability to get the excellent education that the Rye City School District provides. I think that’s our obligation as a community.”

The bond referendum vote is Tuesday, December 13, 7 a.m. - 9 p.m. in the Rye Middle School Gymnasium. 

chris December 12, 2011 at 01:15 PM
Absolutely NOT.
chris December 12, 2011 at 01:19 PM
This whole thing is ridiculous. The tax increases to fund this cosmetic upgrade are unacceptable. The school is one of the most beautiful in the area and while these changes may be desired they are not necessary for delivering a quality education. Vote NO.
Committee for Election Equality December 12, 2011 at 03:22 PM
From what I saw in the before and after images (re: the science labs), I will be voting for the bond. From our vantage point, it is education first. On the other hand, and as far as the other items in the bond, had they been separated out, I would have voted against. Why? I am very close to a former President of the Osborn School's Teacher Association, and she feels that a reallocation of space (classrooms) would accomodate the enrollment. For those fellow Rye residents who do not have, or no longer have, children in the RCSD, I feel your pain!
joan sullivan December 12, 2011 at 03:39 PM
The bond should pass! The reputation of Rye is that it is a family friendly community with excellent public schools. We need to maintain that high standard thru investing in the infrastructure of the school. In the near term it will increase our taxes, but investing in our schools will help to maintain the standard of education Rye is know for and continue to make Rye a desirable community to raise and educate children. In the long run it will only help to increase home values. Joan
RyeDad December 12, 2011 at 04:24 PM
I'm voting NO. Rye needs to focus on kids learning math before I will vote to spend $20,000,000 to add classrooms or buy more test tubes. Rye schools have a horrendous track record in teaching math and have done nothing to address this problem for years.
Bob Zahm December 12, 2011 at 08:30 PM
Chris - since when is a 2% tax increase "ridiculous" to pay for classroom capacity needed for a combination of growth already realized and growth in the pipeline? While there are issues with the proposed bond – over construction of the new addition to allow for a potential 3rd floor at some later date (won't happen); renovations of interior non-classroom space that is nice to have - the district needs new classrooms -and more than will economically fit in additional portables.
Bob Zahm December 12, 2011 at 08:32 PM
"Rye"Dad - have you paid attention to what the Board has done over the past 5 years to improve math instruction and learning in the schools? Short answer - alot. And moving to every 8th grader getting through algebra is a perfect example. There is more that needs to be done academically - particularly in elementary school reading/writing given the impact these skills have on later learning - but the additional classrooms at the MS/HS are needed. You can argue about the way the rooms are to be built, the renovation of bathrooms, guidance counselor offices, nurse's facilities, etc., but the classroom component is a must.
Bob Zahm December 12, 2011 at 08:37 PM
But what’s getting me is the latest PO press release saying that reserves should be used for increased spending that is INSIDE the TAXC AP as opposed to the construction costs which are outside the tax cap. This is fundamentally wrong because it uses “one time” reserves for on-going expenses to avoid the necessity for a 60% yes vote on the budget.
RyeDad December 12, 2011 at 08:46 PM
I agree with some of what you are saying Bob especially about the cap stuff and the construction aid. I'm just not for spending $20,000,000 to do it. I don't see the real rush to get this done on such short notice and the Vote Yes signs around the school are nauseating and could be illegal. I think this bond can be pared down to the $10,000,000 range then and resubmitted some time next year to the taxpayers. There may have been some improvements to the math instruction or some of the overall grades. There is still a lot of room for improvement. Why this was ignored for so long is inexcusable.
chris December 12, 2011 at 08:50 PM
Mr. Zahm -- To Quote you from an earlier article that you wrote: Of course, a 25 percent increase in taxes over 5 years is unsustainable, even for “wealthy” Rye. But that problem won’t be fixed by nixing the bond. It will be fixed by the District using its reserves appropriately, tightening expenses (including employee contracts), and by NYS fixing unfunded mandates – including moving to a defined contribution retirement plan. But none of these areas will be affected by the $20 million bond vote. Some will be affected by the next schools budget. And if you want to make sure spending is kept “tight”, then speak up during budget preparation and be prepared to vote “No” on the budget. The Budget increase passed earlier this year -- so now the bucks stop here. I plan to take your advice Bob and VOTE NO on the BOND. The entire thing is fiscally irresponsible in my opinion. Thanks!
Bob Zahm December 12, 2011 at 09:04 PM
@Chris - I did not say vote "No" on the bond. You're rationalizing your decision. I did say that how you vote on the bond will have an immaterial impact on the budget as the 23% growth is from expenses other than the bond and 2% from the bond.
chris December 12, 2011 at 09:14 PM
Bob -- you said NO on earlier budget initiative -- and that passed with minimal opposition. I am firm on the fiscal irresponsibility and over-reaching scope of the Bond -- and the need to set limits on the never ending tax hikes in this community. Cut this in half -- focus it on what really is NEEDED, and then ask for a responsible vote.
Bob Zahm December 12, 2011 at 09:35 PM
Thank you for explaining that you're voting "No" based on your analysis, not mine. I think you make a mistake tying responsibility for budget growth to the proposed bond because spending will grow w/ or w/o the bond unless budgeting practices and unfunded mandates change. And yes, I voted "No" on last year's budget (and the year prior) because there were too many expenses budgeted to increase w/o a basis for doing so. If the same happens with the next budget, I'll vote "No" again - that is, after all, a large reason for how the District runs surpluses year in and year out.
Rye Homeowner December 13, 2011 at 02:23 AM
We'll be voting "Yes" tomorrow. After touring the HS/MS recently, it's clear to any reasonable person that the overall facilities are in desperate need of improvement and expansion. Frankly, the labs are a health and safety hazard. Sadly, the community has "kicked the can" for too long unitl now it has caught-up with us all. With interest-rates at historic lows and excess construction capacity available this is an ideal time to make the necessary investment....wait and we'll just pay more in either higher taxes or lower home values.
sp December 13, 2011 at 06:06 PM
I moved to Rye years ago for the schools. I want to see my daughter have the same quality facilities that drew us to Rye and caused us to pay a premium for our house. People are forgetting that good schools are one of the big things that keep our housing prices high!

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