Mamaroneck Schools Face Budget Challenges

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The Mamaroneck School Board Meeting on Tuesday covered a broad array of topics.  Nancy Pierson offered a brief synopsis of the Community Engagement Meeting held on February 10.  One hundred thirty members of the community attended, including  Assemblyman George Latimer.

Dr. Robert I. Shaps, Superintendent of Mamaroneck Public Schools, presented the 2011-12 budget using numbers analogous to the current budget to illustrate a gap of over 4 million dollars. This is above the 2.2% increase permitted under the tax cap, and state mandated increases such as a 14% increase in healthcare and contractually mandated salary increases.

Ms. Pierson said that during small group discussions, the community expressed the desire to maintain ” the lowest possible tax rate achievable through efficiency,”  while maintaining a commitment to academic excellence.  Additional community priorities were to develop a multi-year budget outlook, to maintain learning opportunities and support for all students, to work with unions to develop sustainable contracts, and to maintain budget transparency and efficiency.

Superintendent Shaps updated community members on the search for a Mamaroneck High School Principal.  Since the search committee has not found a qualified and exceptional candidate,  he said, ” we will be posting the position internally in the district.” In the next ten days, said Dr. Shaps “we hope to invite community members, faculty and students to participate in the interview process.”

Dr. Mark Levy from the Larchmont-Mamamroneck Community Counseling Center offered a heartfelt and emotional  plea: “please do everything you can to restore the cuts of the last two years.” He eloquently outlined the integral services that the center provides for the community.  Some of the services he mentioned were crisis intervention, parent support groups and life skills youth advocacy groups for Hommick’s sixth and seventh graders.  Dr. Levy said “the counseling center provides a safety network for the kids in the community and helps them navigate the waters of adolescence.”  Dr. Levy reached out to parents and said: “Feel free to call us. Our door is open.”

Mamaroneck School Board President  Rick Marsico asked Dr. Levy “What trends are you seeing (among kids and families in the community)and are they financially related?  Dr. Levy poignantly responded “Our community is a tale of two cities.  In one, life goes on and they are dealing with the normal concerns of life, another section of the community is quietly in distress.”

He spoke about the challenges that the center is facing in trying to maintain the quality of service in light of the fact that over the past two years its budget has been cut by 50%.  He explained that the center is running at “over $100,000 deficit.”

One of the board members suggested “Could you put together numbers?  Could you quantify the results?” and Dr. Levy emotionally responded “Stats do not capture results.  We have missed a lot of tragedies.”

The last order of the evening was a report given by Debbie Manetta, Director of Public Information, about the prospect of developing a district Facebook page.  She explained that “facebook could be an integral part of communication’s strategy.  People use facebook in their daily lives.  We should communicate with them on their terms.”  Some of the benefits she offered as examples of facebook’s values were the ability to tell the district’s story, publicize events, offer curriculum news, reach out to alumni and share students’ achievements.

“As opposed to our web site which is static,” said Manetta, “Facebook is in their face.”

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3 thoughts on “Mamaroneck Schools Face Budget Challenges

  1. There are but two ways of paying debt: Increase of industry in raising income, increase of thrift in laying out.
    – Thomas Carlyle

    “ger1”, without questioning either the adequacy of your stressing its importance, or the actual importance of the CCC, many express the importance of their endeavor, cause, need. Few address what we can do without. Certainly we can do without additional debt left to the nation’s generations of the future that they would be unable to pay.

    Certainly, as a community and as a nation, we must make sure that all have the basic needs of life, including a home in which to live, food to eat, medical care, and an “education” that will provide for their ability to make a lifetime for themselves and our nation.

    But, Westchester winning the race to the top of taxes is another thing certainly we can do without.

    We need to find new ways. Think all. Propose answers please. All our futures are in your hands.

  2. As a counselor at the Community Counseling Center I cannot adequately stress the importance of the center’s mission and current work within the community.

    So many people in Larchmont/Mamaroneck have been either directly or indirectly impacted by the center over the past 30 years. Many are not even aware of the types of issues we are able to help with…from school/social anxiety to early experimentation with drugs and alcohol to resulting issues from sexual abuse…just to name a few we see right now.

    At Hommocks, we offer Life Skills classes to the 6th and 7th graders covering a range of topics including bullying, communication & decision making skills, coping with stress & anger, diversity & tolerance, and skills for dealing with grief and loss. For 8th graders we offer something called “Advocacy Group.” These intimate single-sex groups meet weekly for the entire year and give students a platform to discuss pertinent issues in a confidential way like the impact/concern of alcohol and drug use on their lives, adjusting to the HS, dating, death, family issues, school problems, navigating problems with friends and body image– to name just a few. The friendships created in these groups and the trusting environment as a method of self-expression cannot be underestimated.

    To understand more about how we serve the community, please check us out at:
    communitycounselingcenter.org or call us at 698-7549.

  3. My idea of education is to unsettle the minds of the young and inflame their intellects.
    – R. Hutchins

    Some of the “coursework” could be on a Facebook page, as it is in the face of students, education isn’t static and it could be effective and cost efficient.

    :-)

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