Issuu on Google+ Vol. 13/Number 14 April 5, 2013 State aid eases school budget woes By LIZ BUTTON STAFF REPORTER Rye Neck senior Matt Franks throws a pitch in the Panthers’ April 1 season opener against Woodlands. Franks struck out 10 batters in 5 innings in a lopsided 17-1 win over the Falcons. For more, see page 16. photo/Bobby Begun Accident highlights pedestrian safety concerns By LIZ BUTTON STAFF REPORTER A 13-year-old skateboarder was injured when he was struck by a large SUV, on March 26, at the intersection of Apawamis and Midland avenues, police said. The accident took place about two blocks from the Rye Recreation’s skate park. According to Police Commissioner William Connors, the driver, a 47-year-old male who is not a Rye resident, was driving south on Midland around 12:45 p.m. when the boy crashed into his car, sustaining lower back and leg injuries. He was later transported to Sound Shore Medical Center. The teen was coasting down the “fairly steep” hill on Apawamis and was trying to make a left turn onto Midland, police said. According to witnesses, the SUV had the green light and did not appear to be driving overly fast, Connors said. “Even one of these is too often. We hate to see anything where a child is involved,” said Connors. Over the years, enforcing skateboarding safety has often been a challenge for the department, Connors said, and it becomes even more difficult as pedestrian traffic increases during warmer weather. Around this time of year, the police department sends out an advisory letter to the school district reminding parents and students to heighten their attention to road safety risks, Connors said. “There are some young people who use skateboards almost as a means of transportation now,” Connors said, specifically citing the popularity of longboards, the skateboard’s lengthier counterpart. Legally, the commissioner said, skateboards are considered vehicles and are required to comply with traffic laws just like a bicycle, meaning skaters must ride single file on the right side of the road, and must obey all traffic control devices. Unfortunately, Connors said, police have observed a great deal of noncompliance with these laws, with young skateboarders often riding against traffic and without helmets, which are required by law for those under the age of 14. “They are often doing stunts and tricks. It’s an area where we see a lot of risky behavior,” Connors said. Officers often see kids doing tricks on Purchase Street, clinging to vehicles, riding in the dark, weaving across roadways and blocking streets to ride downhill, according to police. Additionally, enforcement for these kinds of offenses is a challenge, Connors said, especially because “a lot of [these skateboarders] are under the age of 16 and not subject to summonses.” When a young skateboarder is found to be in violation of traffic ordinances, the skateboard is confiscated and brought to police headquarters, whereas a driver or older skateboarder would get a ticket. “Unfortunately, we frequently get challenges from parents about why we took their child’s skateboard,” Connors said. Instead of merely an admonishment, he said, parents should see these moments as an opportunity to reinforce the rules of the road in their children’s minds. The city has grown accustomed to pedestrian safety issues over the years, with several instances of vehicles striking children. The most notable case was in 2006, when Jarrid Amico, 10, was hit and killed by an oncoming van while riding his bike outside his Midland Avenue home. ACCIDENT continued on page 15 With a recent influx of $105,000 in state aid and other fortuitous financial news, school administration officials said Tuesday that the district could afford to preserve and even add certain employee positions in its 2013-2014 budget. At an April 2 Board of Education meeting, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank Alvarez put forth the recommendation to retain two special education positions that were previously on the chopping block. In addition, district proposed retirement incentives that kicked in on March 29 led, as hoped, to some attrition in staff, Alvarez said, resulting in an increase in fund balance and allowing for the possibility of additional essential personnel to join the middle school administrative staff. The newest version of the administration’s proposed spending plan for the 2013-2014 school year calls for $76.7 million in spending—a $3 million increase over the current year’s budget. This value is up from the $75.5 million proposed at the board’s last meeting on March 19. The administration also announced Tuesday the addition of $1.1 million in new debt service since this is the first year debt costs from the school’s $16.35 million high school bond will kick in. While this debt is excluded from calculations for meeting the state’s 2 percent property tax levy cap, the addition of the new debt costs does result in further increases to the property tax levy, Assistant Superintendent for Business Kathleen Ryan said. Now, at a projected 4.65 percent increase, the tax levy is up from 3.04 percent when the budget was first presented on Feb. 12. Board of Education members stressed Tuesday that this levy increase remains under the maximum amount allowable and will not necessitate a tax cap override. Now, since the tax base to support the levy has grown, the property tax rate increase has also risen to 4.59 percent, district officials said. In order to comply with the tax cap, school administrators said they were trying to shift staffing without cutting employees in an effort to save $2.3 million. The number to cut is now 27 full time equivalent positions, down from 28.9 as previously estimated. Board of Education President Laura Slack said that the board will be able to deliver a better idea of how many actual full-time employees will be laid off at their next meeting, scheduled for April 16. Superintendent Alvarez’s budget recommendation has been able to identify cost savings by looking at enrollment, current programs and locating opportunities for efficiencies. Rather than curricular cuts, these efficiencies include synchronizing the schedules at the elementary schools and in the middle and high schools to allow for more efficient use of staff, reducing hours for certain school aides, and miscellaneous administrative restructuring. In announcing the windfall in state aid and attrition in staff due to retirement incentives, Alvarez recommended restoring the two special education positions. “On thinking about our needs in special education, we realized it was important for us to preserve some of the components that we currently have based on student needs and based on some enrollment,” Alvarez said, “and particularly our ability to keep some students in the district that would otherwise be in out-ofSTATE AID continued on page 13 AWARD WINNING NEWSPAPER Published weekly

Rye Sound Shore Review 4-5-13

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