The Pelham school district released the following statement from Angelo Rubbo, the assistant superintendent for business:
“Diligent planning and responsible management by the current and prior School Boards as well as the Administration, allowed the Pelham Schools to both comply with the tax cap and maintain quality programs for next year,” said Assistant Superintendent for Business, Angelo Rubbo.
Mr. Rubbo gave several examples:
- In 2008, the Board anticipated the need for and created a new reserve for increases in mandated Employee Retirement System pension costs of the District. The Board recognized spikes were inevitable in the State-run Teacher Retirement System and Employees Retirement System. They are tied to the stock market, which dropped during that period. This year contributions for Teacher Retirement System increased by approximately $300,000 and the Employee Retirement System by another $275,000. The Board was able to use $650,000 from that reserve to offset this increase. As Board President Robert Eicher said, “This fund was set up for a rainy day, which we are now experiencing.”
- In 2008 the Board, with community approval, entered into an Energy Performance Contract. It allowed Pelham to improve energy efficiencies throughout the District and maintain stable utility costs, which is evident in the proposed budget.
- In FY 2010/11, the Board applied $2 million in reserve funds to retire three debt obligations ahead of schedule. This resulted in a net savings of $1 million in interest payments over the original life of those debts. It also negated spikes in the budget due to the 2008 bond.
In addition, Mr. Rubbo cited detailed planning in preparation of the budget that led to reasonable budget to budget increases:“The District makes every effort to reduce expenditures or increase revenue beyond taxes whenever possible.”
To this end, he said Pelham was a founding member of consortiums for workers compensation, transportation, for employee benefits and student accident services. The District also utilizes four separate State-recognized purchasing consortiums to obtain the best prices possible for materials, supplies and services.
“These are the kind of efforts that we take to aggressively manage our budget while providing quality education,” he said.
Mr. Rubbo added, “Districts were anticipating a 4 percent cap on taxes rather than the lower cap approved last year. The Superintendent of Schools and the administrative team were creative in developing ideas to bridge the gap.” He said the more efficient scheduling at the high school saved approximately $200,000.
As for going forward, Mr. Rubbo said the new contract approved this year with the custodians is aligned with the tax cap.
“Fair negotiations with other unions in these difficult economic times that align contracts with the tax cap will be the next focus,” Rubbo said.
Mr. Rubbo asks the community to contact a school administrator with questions they may have on the budget or for clarification or confirmation on information they may hear or read about on the Pelham schools. He can be reached at 738-9140, ext. 1140. Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Dennis Lauro, can be reached at 738-3434, ext. 1155.