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Sleepy Hollow Schools to Propose 2012-13 Budget

SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. – School officials at the Public Schools of the Tarrytowns released a 2012-13 budget proposal this week that would shift resources away from certain areas and positions to make room for mandated or recommended subjects such as math and special education.

The proposed budget's 2.95 percent increase falls within the district's tax cap calculations, according to the school district. The budget would increase the tax levy by 2.83 percent

Superintendent Howard Smith will discuss the proposed $66.66 million budget - a $1.9 million increase - during Thursday's Board of Education meeting at 8 p.m. in the administration building. Saturday budget work sessions have been scheduled for March 10, 17 and 31 at 8:30 a.m. in the administration building. Residents will vote on the final budget in May.

The school noted in its prepared proposal that the rate of personnel, special education and utilities has increased more than the allowed tax cap, meaning officials had to deal with a funding gap between projected expenses and projected revenue. Much of the savings comes from teachers retiring, the district noted, because their replacements often had lower salaries and benefits.

While staff reductions were not required to balance the budget, the district noted it is proposing to shift resources to several other areas. Smith said Tuesday that many of the changes were designed to provide additional help for at-risk students in regards to state testing and the district's “needs improvement” rating.

Proposed staff increases totaling $570,000 include a part-time kindergarten ESL teacher, an elementary math specialist, a second grade teacher, a middle school special ed teacher, a middle school math teacher, a part-time high school ESL/special ed teacher, a part-time high school math teacher and a part-time high school Regents social studies teacher.

The staff increases mean proposed eliminations and reductions: reducing the number of teaching assistants in first grade from one full-time equivalent position to half of a full-time equivalent position; eliminating the elementary librarian position and having teaching assistants supervise the library; eliminating a pre-kindergarten social worker position through retirement; eliminating one foreign language position and assigning at-risk students to extra math instruction in place of a foreign language; consolidating high school digital media positions to a part-time position; and eliminating a part-time clerical position.

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