SCARSDALE, N.Y. -- The following is a letter from Scarsdale Superintendent of Schools Michael V. McGill and Board of Education President Suzanne Seiden:
Dear Scarsdale Community Member:
We are writing as part of the effort to make this year’s school budget process as open and understandable as possible.
As you know, the budget is a financial plan for supporting educational programs and services in our schools. Each year’s planning process begins when the Board of Education sets its goals in July and ends with a public vote eleven months later, the following May.
• The Board’s July discussion of District progress guides staff planning in the fall. • In September, District staff begin to develop proposals for the following year. • A zero-based review process occurs at grade, department, building, and district levels. • During the fall, the Board hears public reports on key areas. This year the areas included:
o Elementary, middle and high school educational programs o The transportation program o The physical facilities program o The special education program and related services o The tax cap and its implications
• In January, there are two public budget forums. The meetings (January 21 at 7:30 p.m. in Rooms 170-172 at the High School, and January 22 at 10:00 a.m. at the Girl Scout House) will include:
o Budget overview o Brief presentations on programs of interest
These activities lead up to the Superintendent’s budget recommendation to the Board of Education at the end of January. The Board then undertakes a thorough review of the recommendation over four successive public sessions in February and March. Community members are invited to comment at each session. The sessions, all beginning at 6:30 p.m., are being held in Room 170-172 on:
• February 3 • February 5 • February 10 • February 12
On March 10, the Board will present a preliminary proposed budget for community reaction. Over the next six (6) successive weeks, the trustees will solicit public reaction before adopting on April 22 a final proposal for the May 20 budget vote.
This extensive public process is intended to align the Board’s budget proposal with core values of the Scarsdale community. To date, we have heard that residents want the District to continue to offer an education of the first rank, but that it’s still important to exercise fiscal discipline in the current economic environment.
The goal of all this work is to assure that the District is resourced appropriately and that its activities are justified with care. The Board is responsible for reviewing particular programs and services and for setting forth a proposal that supports the efforts it considers valuable. The community decides in May on the overall shape of the education it desires and will sustain financially. We are committed to make this process collaborative and to reach broad consensus about Scarsdale’s educational and fiscal plans for the coming year.
Public participation is essential to success of the budget. We invite your reflections and your advice as we go forward. Please check our website (www.scarsdaleschools.org) for budget information and updates and meetings.
Michael V. McGill, Suzanne Seiden Superintendent of Schools President, Board of Education