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Mount Pleasant's School Boss Takes Pay Freeze, Outlines Budget

THORNWOOD, N.Y. – Mount Pleasant Central School District Superintendent Susan Guiney presented a preliminary 2012-13 budget overview at Westlake High School Wednesday night while also announcing that she will take a current pay freeze on her contract for the upcoming school year.

Guiney said the teachers' collective bargaining unit negotiating for a new contract was the inspiration behind the decision to take a freeze.

“I know that the teachers are in negotiations for their new contract and I understand that what they will eventually agree upon will be significantly less than what they deserve and I just wanted to do my part to help,” Guiney said.

The pay freeze will keep Guiney’s salary at its 2011-12 rate of $230,000 and save the district around $9,000 on this upcoming budget.  Guiney signed a contract in June 2011 that gave her a $27,000 increase in pay from the previous year of 2010.  The pay freeze will be the second that Guiney has taken during her tenure as superintendent of the district.

The savings from Guiney’s pay freeze are just a small portion of what still needs to be reduced from the projected 2012-13 numbers that will allow the district to stay within the 2 percent tax levy increase cap.  The district’s preliminary budget of $51.6 million leaves $900,000 to be eliminated in order to stay within the 2 percent levy increase.  Guiney noted that staying at a 2 percent tax levy increase will require the reduction of around eight to 10 staff members.  The levy increase will create a 2.47 percent tax rate increase, or around a $180 per year increase for the average assessed household in Mount Pleasant.

Guiney said the district will look at both instructional and non-instructional areas of the district to make reductions.  Although she recognized that many parents in the district were against the idea, Guiney said that by eliminating sections in the elementary schools and increasing class sizes on average of around three children, the district can save around $300,000.

As for eliminating the kindergarten program from the district, Guiney said she is not a supporter.

“I’m not a big proponent of eliminating or reducing the kindergarten program from our district,” Guiney said.  “I think early education is very important and it was only being discussed as a possible reduction to be fair.”

The district will make a line-by-line presentation of their non-instructional costs on March 14 and instructional costs on March 21.  The budget will be adopted on April 4 and available to the public on April 25.

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