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First Scarsdale School Budget Proposal Unveiled

SCARSDALE, N.Y. – After months of speculative talk about the 2012-2013 Scarsdale School District budget, the board of education and Scarsdale residents have some real numbers to consider as the district's administration unveiled its preliminary budget proposal Monday night.

The proposal, crafted by Superintendent Michael McGill, Assistant Superintendents Linda Purvis, Joan Weber and Lynne Shain and district treasurer and business manager Jeff Martin, is for $142,884,284—$1.1 million above the state's new tax levy cap. The figure, according Martin, represents a hike of $228 on the average Scarsdale homeowner's tax bill.

Board members had plenty of questions about the figures Monday night, and said they will have more at Wednesday night's budget study session at 6:30 p.m. in room 170-172 of the administration wing of Scarsdale High School.

Weber said the budget reflects a reduction of 9.75 full-time employees, including 7.05 positions from the professional staff and 2.7 civil service positions. Weber said the cuts would reflect changing enrollment patterns. And while board member Lewis Leone Jr. wondered whether more of the built-in surplus could be applied to bring thee budget in at cap, board vice president Elizabeth Guggenheimer questioned whether the budget included enough money to keep the buildings in good working order and preserve and enhance Scarsdale's educational system.

"This is extremely bare bones, maybe too bare bones," she said. "We're in the 'have to' area instead of doing what's best for the students."

McGill said the budget was as austere as he can make it without cutting into the system's educational quality.

"We can't make any more cuts without starting to eliminate substantial things,” he said. In one week, McGill said he will give a list of items that would be cut if the budget were to be pared further.

McGill said he believes the board will ultimately come down on the side of preserving the educational quality, and it will be up to the public to make the final call. State law mandates that a budget that surpasses the tax levy cap must garner 60 percent of the voters' approval to pass.

McGill called the 2 percent tax levy cap an "arbitrary number set by the people in Albany that has nothing to do with what the people of Scarsdale want."

After three more study sessions – Wednesday, then the following Monday and Wednesday – the board will listen to input from the community and decide on a final proposal to take to the voters May 15.

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