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Mount Pleasant Schools Face Steep Budget Cuts

Schools Superintendent Susan Guiney, right, and the Mount Pleasant School District are facing the difficult decision of overriding the tax cap or making significant cuts to the 2013-2014 budget.
Schools Superintendent Susan Guiney, right, and the Mount Pleasant School District are facing the difficult decision of overriding the tax cap or making significant cuts to the 2013-2014 budget. Photo Credit: Robert Michelin

THORNWOOD, N.Y. – With the budget process for the 2013-2014 school year getting under way, Mount Pleasant Schools Superintendent Susan Guiney said cuts of somewhere between $1.5 and $2 million may need to be made in order to reach the tax levy cap, and staff members losing their jobs is a definite reality.

"Every year it gets more and more difficult," Guiney said. "This year, if we were to meet the cap, there's no way we could do so without reducing positions."

As it stands, if the Mount Pleasant Central School District kept its budget from this current school year for next year, its tax levy increase would be 5.5 percent and would raise taxes for the average household by about $378 for the year. In order to do that, though, the district would need a 60 percent approval vote from the community to override the state's mandated 2 percent tax levy cap.

Guiney said the district is unsure how confident it is in receiving that approval from the residents of Mount Pleasant. Therefore, significant cuts or changes to increase revenue may be made. Some of the options that are being considered are reducing kindergarten, increasing class sizes at the elementary school level, charging for student parking at Westlake campus and reducing transportation services among others.

"We want to look at the reductions or revenue drivers that would least affect our classroom environment," Guiney said.

The task of making reductions without students or faculty members feeling the repercussions may be difficult, she said, and overriding the cap remains an option.

"It's a double-edged sword because, on one side of the spectrum, people don't want their property taxes going up," Guiney said. "But at the same time, they also want stellar education for their children."

The district's budget will be approved by the Board of Education in the spring and voted on by the public May 21.

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