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Peekskill Schools Face Challenging Times in 2013-2014 Budget

Peekskill school officials gave a forecast on the budget picture for 2013-2014 during Tuesday's school board meeting.

Need a pick me up?

Then stop reading. The budget discussion during Tuesday’s Peekskill school board meeting was anything but upbeat.

“There is no good news,” James Willis, Peekskill’s superintendent of schools, said Tuesday.

Willis said the district was looking at a budget gap of about $700,000 heading into this year. But with rising pension costs, dwindling fund balance reserves and other factors, Willis said that budget gap has widened.

“There are a number of things that you won’t see because we don’t have the numbers yet,” Willis said.

Willis said district officials are hopeful that Gov. Andrew Cuomo increases state aid by 4 percent, which is 1 percent more than district officials were counting on. Even if school aid is increased by 4 percent statewide, Willis said there are still questions as to how those funds get divvied up among school districts.

“We don’t know that,” Willis said. “We’ll see that by the end of the month.”

There are also questions regarding health care costs and whatever revenue making proposals that come through BOCES.

Joseph Mosey, the district’s assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said he touched base with Father John Higgins of the Assumption School in Peekskill Monday. Although the Catholic Archdiocese has yet to make an official announcement, Higgins told Mosey that the school is likely closing at the end of this school year.

There are about 200 students currently enrolled at the Assumption School.

“We have to figure out what that cost is going to be,” Willis said.

Willis also said the district had to figure out the costs associated with the vacant Uriah Hill building, which will likely have to be opened due to overcrowding as some the district’s other schools. Willis is also hopeful that the district will get Medicaid reimbursements for its special-needs students.

Gregory Sullivan, superintendent of Peekskill schools, said the school district might be looking at a more than $930,000 pension increases alone.  He also warned that the district risked depleting its fund balance if expenditures aren’t restructured or new revenue sources aren’t found.

Willis said spending in the district has already been frozen and that he reviews every expenditure request that’s made.

“We’re not focusing on cuts at this point in time because it’s too early to do that,” Willis said. “We don’t know enough of the picture yet.”

Willis added that district staffing is already barebones and that it will be difficult to find any additional cuts.

"We can't afford to cut anymore staff with the way we deliver education today," Willis said.

Joseph Urbanowicz, president of the Peekskill school board, said the district needed to begin coming up with a list of best and worst case scenarios to present to the public.

“If the best case scenario, let’s say we get a $1 million [budget] gap, we've got to get right to work on that as a board,” Urbanowicz said. “We need to start thinking about what that process is going to look like.”

Urbanowicz suggested that the district start communicating with employees and the community to start looking for solutions. He added that the board only has until April 16 before it has to approve a budget.

“That’s two months away,” Urbanowicz said. 

Jill Gertz January 11, 2013 at 09:37 PM
America has done better at immigration that almost any other nation. You enjoy a preoccupation with American xenophobia because you think it justifies your total disregard for orderly immigration. You pat yourself on the back while chaos and anarchy take place. For the record I think many of the illegals are better than most Americans (even if the illegals are prejudiced against blacks who they feel threatened by). At no time in US history could other countries send their criminals here with such ease. Same with the sick and America now doesn't even follow sensible quarantine protocols. At no time could illegals siphon off many public benefits. There were no food stamps in 1880. Now Obama advertises food stamps in Mexico to lure more hand-out oriented voters here. There is a difference between being virtuously generous and foolishly giving away the store to feel good about yourself on the public dime "Obama USDA met 30 times with Mexican gov’t to promote food-stamp use among Mexican immigrants" http://dailycaller.com/2012/10/01/obama-usda-met-30-times-with-mexican-govt-to-promote-food-stamp-use-among-mexican-immigrants/
Cremlock Dregs January 11, 2013 at 09:38 PM
Peekskillman hit the nail on the head. Lots of languages are spoken here but for some reason Spanish is the one being pushed. And it's not just being pushed. It's being imposed, which makes it a lot different from taking elective French or German of some other language. Why are election ballots in Spanish and not in Russian or Polish? For the sole reasons of the influx of the Hispanicos and the cowardly politicans who want their vote. The lesson to be learned is clear: might makes right. If you get enough of your fellow foreigners here, you can force America to teach your kids your foreign language and you can get election ballots printed in your foreign language. This is antithetical to the whole concept of America. Here, right makes might, not the other way around. The Hispanicos are trying to muscle us. But as the great ENGLISHMAN Isaac Newton said, for each and every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. If you love Spanish so much, stay in Puerto Rico, you dirty hypocrites. Or if you come here (probably illegally) at least admit your own country is a cesspool. But you have no right to eat our food and wave your dirty, nasty Dominican flag in our faces at the same time. You can't have it both ways, Pablo. No you can't, I say. Clean up your act and stop fouling our shores with your nastiness. It was GEORGE Washington, not JORGE!
JM January 11, 2013 at 10:23 PM
You know what Kirsten? Human life began in central Africa -- hundreds of thousands of years ago. Therefore, everyone since the, outside of those few countries defined by rebel forces today, are foreigners -- U.S., Canada, Germany, France, China, Australia included -- using that logic, at least. However, in 2012, I am not from foreigners, my mom was born in L.A., her dad born in St. Louis and mom born in Canada, my dad his mom and dad both born in NY. We are talking nearly 80 years now. I was born in L.A. Most whites and blacks living today in the U.S. are not foreigners either as they and their parents and grandparents were born here. Those from south of the border who are present on our soil today are foreigners. You need to convince me how much they pay in taxes, firstly, and how much they assimilate into our culture and make the U.S.A. a better place, secondly, before using such an argument about being kind to Hispanics. Then you need to convince me that so-called Hispanics haven't figure out how to come here and live under the radar unlike those from Europe 100 and 200 years ago...before I even remotely consider paying to teach people English on my tax dime. Come here, fine; live here, fine; but come with perfect English or pay a private tutor and come expecting to pay half your wage in income taxes like the rest of us. Or stay home. That is life in the U.S.
peekskillman January 13, 2013 at 03:19 AM
JM--one of the best and most articulate arguments that Ive read to date. Bravo. I couldnt have said or thought it better. Im interested in reading how the "other " side can respond to your thoughtful post. Well done!!
D. Carry April 11, 2013 at 08:19 PM
I love how people who graduated from Peekskill highschool 20 years ago defend this crap hole school. I would never in a million years send my kid to a school with a graduation rate at 60 percent, and 14 percent white children population. Culturally diverse? Who are you kidding? Diversity means mixed. There is nothing mixed about being one of two blond little kids in your class. Seriously, my kid would get his butt kicked in that school. Probably come out all screwed up from being around thugs. I'm soooooooo tired of people defending that town. I've lived there, I've done my research, I tried to "accept" it, and now I'm over it. Clean up Peekskill or us middle class, tax paying folks with families are going to keep moving due to your joke of a school district.

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