For the first time in three months, the Port Chester Board of
Education was in unanimous agreement during their Tuesday, Feb. 7 meeting at
the Port Chester Middle School. But, then again, the board members weren’t voting
on anything related to the proposed capital project.
After a quick presentation about the middle school and recognizing
various students for their achievements in music, football, leadership and
character, board members heard from a few members of the audience and then
moved to create an ice hockey team for middle and high school students.
Advocating for the $79.95 million bond was resident Robert Reis,
who said he wasn’t previously aware that the district had been cited for
capacity issues. But now that he knows the number of students within each
building, the Munson Street resident explained that he is all for the capital
project and took a moment to thank the Bond Advisory Committee (BAC) for
putting in the work to create a plan that encompassed all the schools that
needed new classrooms.
“The rhetoric coming out is recycling the old arguments,” Reis
said in regards to those who are worried about the bond’s cost. “We need space.
Space costs money.”
“It’s nice to see the other schools are getting the necessary classroom
space. Congested classes leads to congested learning,” Reis concluded.
Kevin Allmashy was the final person to speak who didn’t have ties
with the BAC. Allmashy’s family has lived in the Port Chester School District
for over 100 years and he would like to be able to continue that long heritage.
But he expressed his fear that if the overcrowding issue isn’t solved soon,
then more programs will be cut and more people will move away.
Allmashy, who has children entering the district next year,
explained that his love of cooking began within the walls of the Port Chester
schools and, because of the high school’s culinary arts program, he was able to
foster a passion that turned into a 25-year profession as a chef.
The Whittemore Place resident also recalled practicing his
instrument in Robert Vitti’s office, who is the high school band director. Over
25 years later, the students still use his office as a practice space because
they do not have a band room.
He also cited the combined gym/cafeteria space in King Street
School, the size of the high school’s gym, and King Street’s parking as issues
that needed to be addressed. Because the BAC addressed all of this in the
project they recommended and the school board approved, Allmashy wholeheartedly
supports the bond.
“This is our town,” Allmashy said. “I still love this town and I
can’t imagine cutting anything else in the future such as band or choir or anything,
because if something doesn’t get passed now, they’re going to start cutting
again. I can’t imagine anything else being less than what we have now.”
Bond Advisory Committee members also addressed the board. Former
BAC member and Taxpayer Alliance Group Co-Chairman Thomas Ceruzzi explained
that TAG has been facing backlash from people who wanted to know why they
didn’t put up another plan in opposition to the BAC’s recommendation. Ceruzzi reminded
the community that he pushed for former BAC member Richard Hyman’s plan, which
added classrooms on the end of the wings on Tamarack Avenue and refurbished the
Former BAC member Keith Morlino later pointed out via the BAC’s
minutes that the refurbished gym was added after the committee voted to reject
Ceruzzi added that TAG would have also supported renovations to
John F. Kennedy Magnet School.
“We took into consideration that the Kennedy School is probably
the most toxic school in terms of overcrowding right now,” the co-chairman
said. “We would have considered a plan that fixed both of those schools.”
“This bond is in peril,” he concluded.
How will the bond affect taxes?
The Board of Education posted a tax calculator on their website, www.portchesterschools.org.
To find it, go to the Parents/Community tab and click “2017 Capital Project.” The
tax calculator uses data from 2015, so the estimates might vary slightly from
the numbers presented below.
The average home in the Port Chester School District, which
encompasses parts of Rye Brook, is assessed at $477,000. This means the average
homeowner can expect a one-time increase of $0.98 a day, which is $29.40 a
month or about $352.80 a year. After the 24-year bond period is up, the average
district taxpayer can expect to have paid around $8,467.20.
Taxes will not be raised overnight.
“It will be a couple of years before taxes increase,” Board of
Education President Jim Dreves said. “There is a flow to this thing.”
All of these numbers are after factoring in state aid, which is
39 percent of the total project, $31.18M out of $79.95M.
Want to show your support?
If you are in favor of the bond, members of PC Partnership for
Community and Schools have banded together to create lawn signs. The signs read
“Vote YES for the school bond. March 28, 2017.” If you are interested, contact
Elizabeth Rotfeld at firstname.lastname@example.org and provide your name and address.
Someone will drop off a sign at your home and pick it up on March 29.
The next Board of Education meeting will be held on Tuesday,
March 7 at 7 p.m. at Port Chester High School.
In an historic decision, Vice President Mike Pence had to break
the tie vote and elected Betsy DeVos as the 11th United States
Secretary of Education. Devos faces a lot of opposition from public school
boards around the nation that have taken stances to oppose her. The Port
Chester school board decided to handle DeVos’s confirmation like they handled
John King’s Common Core – they will go on record against some of her decisions,
but they will not make an attack against her as a person.
“I will say, personally, I have a problem with a lot of things
she’s said,” Dreves said. “We will go on record against, like we did with King,
we will fight the battle, but we don’t want to get in the issue of fighting it
on a federal level.”
Instead, Dreves said they will leave the fight mainly to their
Ice hockey team
The Board of Education voted unanimously to try their hand at
another ice hockey merger for seventh, eighth and ninth graders. The district
has done this in the past, but the program was terminated due to rising costs
and an unsustainable method of payment. This time, the Port Chester School
District is merging with Blind Brook, Rye Neck and Harrison for the purpose of
establishing the Rye Town/Harrison Titans team for the 2017-18 academic year. The
team is currently comprised of Blind Brook, Harrison and Rye Neck students.
The merger will cost $750 per student and each district pays for its
own students. The cost includes renting ice rinks for practicing and games.
Parents are responsible for the student’s equipment. For more information, go