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A Message from Dr. Valenti: Five Reasons to Support the School Budget

On April 9, Eastchester's Board of Trustees adopted our proposed school budget. Over the months of April and May, we will be issuing regular columns on “Five Reasons to Support Eastchester’s School Budget!” 


Prior to the Tuesday, May 21 vote, our goal is to use these columns, Board meetings, podcasts and live streaming events to inform taxpayers of the critically important K-12 programs this budget will support while remaining sensitive to our residents ability to pay. 


The first reason to support the budget is that it treats the taxpayer fairly. 


Let’s start with the facts! According to the Westchester/Putnam County Combined Wealth Rate (CWR) for 46 school districts. Eastchester’s CWR is 1.442, placing our community 27th when ranked amongst 46 school districts. The CWR measures both the District’s property values and income of district residents. For comparison, Rye City ranks first with a CWR of 4.58 and Peekskill ranks lowest at 0.64. 


State Aid is another indicator of a district's wealth. In New York State the lower your percentage of state aid as part of total district revenue the wealthier your district is. Rye City only receives 3% in state aid, meaning it is wealthy by comparison to Westchester school districts. Mahopac receives 27% state aid, signifying it needs more state support. Eastchester again ranks in the middle of Westchester County with 13% of total revenue in state aid. 


Both the combined wealth ratio and state aid rankings tell us Eastchester is neither the wealthiest nor poorest of our neighbors. Rather we are at the average level of wealth requiring us to monitor our expenses carefully and spending our school resources efficiently and effectively. 


Fully aware of our taxpayers’ generosity to support the schools, we decided to keep increases for all programs, below the New York State tax cap. January’s hard core inflation rate registered 3.9%. Our 2.96% tax levy remains well below current inflation. 


Additionally our budget to budget increase is only 3%. That places Eastchester 24th when compared to 31 districts reporting. New Rochelle projects a 9.9% budget increase and ranks first. Bronxville ranks 31st at 2.1%. 


We think two facts about our budget demonstrate prudent spending and taxpayer sensitivity. First, the data support the fact our tax rate and budget increases remain below both current inflation rates and the average tax rate increases of neighboring school districts. We are at the 50th percentile in wealth, budget and tax spending. 


Second, and this is critical. Academically, Eastchester is “punching above its weight!” We are closing in competitively with the 10 most academically successful districts in Westchester. Our well above average academic performance on New York State testing is achieved while keeping expenses and costs below the 50th percentile. 


We believe “Respect for the Taxpayers” is the primary reason to support Eastchester’s budget.