Voters in New Rochelle went to the polls Tuesday and approved the New Rochelle School District's budget by an almost two-to-one margin, as well as electing two new members of the Board of Education and approving the New Rochelle Public Library budget.
According to unofficial results, voters approved the district's $231 million budget 2,821 to 1,506. The $4.5 million library budget was approved by a similar margin.
"We are thankful to the community for supporting the budget," said district spokesman Paul Costiglio. "As far as the board election goes, we thank the community for electing the two new members and we look forward to working with them."
The approved 2011-12 school budget was 2.66 percent more than the 2010-11 budget and represented a 4.5 percent increase in the tax rate.
New Rochelle School District Superintendent Richard Organisciak said, in putting together the spending package, the district had to overcome a reduction in funding from the state totaling almost $6.4 million, along with an increase in payments to state pension systems.
Aside from the school budget, there was a hotly contested six-way race for two open seats on the Board of Education.
Brickel, 42, is the director of Hudson Valley Special Education Parent Center. Relkin, 40, is formerly a public sector attorney, who now takes care of her children at home.
New Rochellean Joanne Perillo turned out to vote, she said, because of the budget and "the people who are running for the board, whether they are going to serve in the proper way."
Ralph and Judi Parente of New Rochelle cast their ballots at New Rochelle High School.
"It's about taxes," Ralph Parente said. "They keep going up."
He said as a business owner he has had to make tough decisions.
"They need to do the same with the school," Parente said.
New Rochelle resident Donna Bongiorni, who retired last year after 15 years as a teacher assistant, said she voted against the school budget.
"What I think is they scare the parents into voting yes," she said, threatening to eliminate arts, music and electives.
"They are not cutting anything," Bongiorni said.
Yes No New Rochelle School District 2011-12 Budget 2,821 1,506 New Rochelle Public Library 2011-12 Budget 2,714 1,362 New Rochelle School Board Candidates (choose two)
Naomi Brickel 2,586 Robert Cox 1,796 Dr. Salvador A. Fernandez 513 Peter O'Keeffe 570 Rachel Relkin 1,967 Colin J. Thomas 1,111 New Rochelle Public Library Candidates (choose two)
Bo Kemp 2,503 Gregory T. Varian 2,731
School Budget Highlights
- A zero percent increase in salary for Federation of United School Employees members.
- Elimination of 79.5 positions district-wide (the actual number of layoffs is undetermined; at this writing it stands at 34).
- A salary freeze for the superintendent, assistant superintendents, managerial and confidential unit members.
- Elimination of the assistant superintendent-human resources position.
- A reduction of $850,000 in the transportation budget.
- A cut of more than $485,000 in supplies and maintenance.
New Rochelle Public Library Budget
The library asked voters to approve a $4,473,725 spending package, which is 0.5 percent less than the 2010-11 adopted budget of $4,496,548.
The approved budget will increase the tax levy by $143,036 or 3.49 percent.
Two candidates ran for two vacancies on the library's board of trustees. They were Gregory T. Varian and Bo Kemp.
Varian will serve a five-year term beginning July 1 and ending June 30, 2016. Kemp's term is two years, due to an unexpired term, which ends June 30, 2013.
CORRECTION: Shortly after this article was published, the New Rochelle School District spokesman informed Patch of a change to the no vote number for the school budget. The article has been changed to reflect the correct unofficial results. A comment by Donna Bongiorni was incorrect in a previous version of this article. She said the school district scares parents into voting yes. Patch regrets the error.