Issuu on Google+ Vol. 13/Number 12 Civility push comes from nonprofit Rye remembers Michael Ice By CHRISTIAN FALCONE ASSOCIATE EDITOR Matt Cohen, ‘08, is presented the MVP trophy for the inaugural Michael Ice memorial alumni game by Michael Ice Sr. on March 16. With a day of basketball events, the community was able to honor the memory of Ice Jr., who died in 2012. For story, see page 14. Contributed photo Former trustee looks to rejoin Board of Education By CHRISTIAN FALCONE ASSOCIATE EDITOR When Robert Zahm resigned from the Board of Education in 2010, he didn’t plan on being a regular at subsequent board meetings thereafter. But the former trustee said he remained involved in the school board’s proceedings to continue to make the case for cost reductions and how they could and should be made. Local governance has certainly become a far different environment from when Zahm left his position. The biggest issue at play is the state mandated 2 percent property tax cap—in its second year of existence—and the continued escalation of pension, retirement and health care costs that have left school districts and municipal governments with little means to build budgets. The rising unfunded costs handed down primarily by the state, and caps on increases of spending, have placed increasingly more pressure on local school boards to locate cost reductions. With those challenges facing the Rye school district, the former board member said he’s ready to re- March 22, 2013 Robert Zahm join the board and help tackle those challenges. He plans to run in the May election. Zahm, 50, said he will be running on the same principles as when he first ran in 2004: Improving things from a fiscal, governance and communications perspective. “Everyone who runs say they are going to improve communications,” he said. “Very few focus on governance and fiscal management.” On the financial side of things, the biggest issue on the horizon that will have significant impact on the district’s future budgets will be the need to finalize collective bargaining agreements with each of the five school district unions. Each contract is set to expire this year and none appear close to being settled, according to Zahm. That coupled with the current economic conditions, ongoing reductions in government aid whether its on the state or federal level, and the property tax cap means coming to terms on contracts that are satisfying for the both the taxpayer and district employee is not going to be an easy task. “You have to look at employee contributions and what else you can do,” Zahm said. The 2013-2104 school budget as proposed has been controversial in that it plans to cut 28 staffing positions which is believed to be the largest reduction in district history. Zahm said the numbers as presented, in his opinion, so far don’t add up. The administration’s proposal is geared at saving approximately $2.3 million in order to keep the district’s budget complaint with the tax cap. TRUSTEE, continued on page 9 Although calls for a return to civility in Rye politics have largely not gained a sympathetic ear, some organizers of a grassroots movement believe it could be an added bonus if the city’s governmental reputation can also be salvaged. Largely seen as a buzzword in the city for quite some time, civility will now be the centerpiece of an upcoming community conversation in the hopes of kicking off an initiative to promote increased civility in Rye. On April 3, the Rye Youth Council, a nonprofit geared toward ensuring students become resilient and responsible members of society, will sponsor the forum which will be held at Community Synagogue. But with children in mind, and contrary to what one would believe, the initiative hasn’t really stemmed from recent events concerning the members of the City Council or ongoing city scandals. Instead, the discussion stems from a high profile hazing incident at the high school last year, according to Greg Howells, executive director of the Rye YMCA. Although the initiative is not really about the hazing, Howells said it always takes an incident to get people motivated. Around the time of the hazing case, dozens of community members convened to informally discuss ways to address concerns over quality of life in Rye. A subcommittee was soon formed and the group began meeting thereafter to formalize ways of incorporating ideals and principles to inject civility into the broader community. The subcommittee consisted of members from the Rye Youth Council, the YMCA, area clergy and representatives of the school district amongst others. In total, 25 community organizations have been linked to the initiative including the police department, Board of Education and City Council although nothing is official at this point. Mayor Douglas French, a Republican, who represented the city in the initial discussions said he is pleased to see that the dialogue is continuing. “It’s important as community leaders and parents that we continue to work collectively to foster a positive, community environment that at times we have gotten away from,” Mayor French said. According to Howells, the plan is to invite organizations and individuals to embrace the concept CIVILITY, continued on page 10 Let’s dance The NCAA Tournament kicks off this week and with it comes another installment of Rye’s elected leaders offering their own Final Four picks. For brackets, see page 13.

Rye Sound Shore Review, 3-22-2013

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