Sunday, June 9, 2019

Putting aside the financial and property value implications for a moment, I think it is important that we also consider the messages we are sending to our children and the teachers with this bond. When we allow buildings to decay, unsafe areas to develop, and educational spaces to insufficiently support our children and teachers, we are essentially telling them we don’t value education as the bedrock of our community. In giving teachers safe, clean and effective workspaces, we are esteeming their dedication to and focus on our children. In providing our children a safe, clean and adaptable environment to learn and play, we are imparting to them the significance of education. I will be voting "Yes" because I hope that as a community, we can agree on this- sending positive messaging to our children and teachers is something we cannot afford to fall short on.    

Katelin Berkowitz 

From a former Rye school board president: “The proposed bond is responsible and efficient”

A lot of people have asked my opinion on the proposed school bond. Here it is: We need to come together as a community, as we’ve done so many times in the past, and support our school system by voting YES, YES, YES on Tuesday.

As taxpayers in Rye we have created one of the best school systems in the nation. Every school day terrific faculty, staff, and administrators, teaching at our four school campuses, meet the diverse learning needs of Rye children in academics, athletics and arts. Partnering with parents, businesses, and nonprofits in the Rye community, our schools ensure that Rye graduates leave well prepared to succeed in college and in life. This is our longstanding tradition in Rye. We support it as Rye taxpayers because education is among our most cherished values.

Now our school campuses need significant work in order to continue to support the phenomenal program we, as a community, have built. And our district professionals and trustees have put forth a responsible and efficient bond to address those needs. The naysayers in our community criticize the bond by offering up flawed and defective logic.

“Why not just do what is absolutely necessary, or even half?” This is a false flag. Schools face the same infrastructure needs that exist throughout our country. There are pressing infrastructure and security needs at each building. And just as importantly, good education is not static. We need to have facilities that support the program that will educate the next generation of Rye graduates to be successful and competitive in this century. Merely patching up buildings that were designed in the 1930s and 50s will quickly leave our children behind. Delaying part or all of the work will set us even further behind, result in parts of some facilities being closed, and ultimately cost us much more.

As taxpayers we should come together and protect the leading educational system we’ve built for Rye children. Please join me in voting YES, YES, YES this Tuesday, June 11, 2019.

Josh Nathan
Former Rye School Board President, Trustee 2003-2012
June 9, 2019

Straight talk on the bond


Straight talk on the bond: Why Everyone should vote YES-YES-YES

Three simple reasons to vote YES on June 11th.

1)     It’s the right thing to do for our schools.
2)     It will result in LESS taxes (you read that right, voting for an $80M bond will cost you LESS in taxes – see below).
3)     Property values.

#1 - Passing this bond is the right thing to do.  The vast bulk is desperately needed infrastructure and repair.  Things this town has been negligent in neglecting.  The much smaller education amount is for areas where infrastructure work will be done anyway and modernizes outdated classrooms.  Don’t open up the walls and put back a 1960s classroom.  Vote YES-YES-YES.

For those who ask: “can’t we do a smaller bond?”  No.  This is the smaller bond.  Professional recommendations were for a much larger bond.  There’s no fat.  It addresses immediate needs.  Your School Board and Administration did their job and presented a conservative option.  Now is the time to support them.

#2 - Yes = Less Taxes.  Ok, you’re probably thinking: “This guy’s telling me an $80M Bond will mean less taxes.  Is he crazy?”  Nope.  Not crazy. 

First, a bond efficiently allocates funds across projects to achieve efficiencies of scale.  Piecemealing is more expensive.  And the work will happen.  Eventually.  Things are breaking.  The field will be shut down without this bond.  If the Osborn boiler from a couple years ago had broken during cold weather, rather than warm, elementary students would have been relocated (that would have cost a pretty penny).  Emergency fixes are expensive and disruptive.  Planned fixes are responsible and prudent.

Second, most of the funds are already allocated in annual budgets.  This year’s budget has nearly $4M for debt service.  The spread of the bond over the next 31 years, layered in with expiring debt, doesn’t increase that line item that much.  Go to the tax calculator on the district’s website to figure out the net annual impact on your taxes.  For a $1.75M home, it’s less than $200 a year. 

If you’re thinking, “wait, if old debt’s expiring, won’t I get money back if I vote no?”  Nope.  Budgeting doesn’t work that way, especially with current State laws.  That $4M will stay in future budgets, somewhere.  A School Board — any School Board — would be irresponsible if it did it any differently. 

You are voting for a modest annual increase rather than suffering more expensive piecemeal chunks over the next couple decades.  Bottom line, if your priority is low taxes vote YES-YES-YES.  You’ll pay more in the long run if you don’t.

#3 - Property Values.  This is simple.  Rye’s property values depend on the ELITE reputation of its schools.  Not the good reputation.  Not the good enough reputation.  The elite reputation.  If you think that twice voting this Bond down — when Scarsdale, Bronxville, Harrison, Port Chester, New Rochelle and many others have supported their schools with YES’s the last few years — won’t drop property values, you are deluding yourself.  Even better, studies consistently show that passing school bonds increase property values more than the costs of the bond itself.  Google it.  There’s a great one from Princeton.  Then vote YES-YES-YES and invest in yourself and your town.

Finally, for those who suggest the “responsible” thing to do is vote “NO” to force a smaller bond, well, excuse my French, but that is unadulterated bulls**t.
-- Is it responsible to ignore the crumbling state of our school interiors?  No.
-- Is it responsible to ask our students to learn in rooms built for 1950s style educating?  No.
-- Is it responsible for the “NO” vote to largely not bother to appear at the public discussion meetings?  No.
-- Is it responsible for the “NO” vote to inflate the numbers and ignore that the actual annual tax increases arising from the bond are relatively small?  No.

Those who propose that the “needed” maintenance work is only around $30M are doing the math wrong and they know it.  I’ve studied the budget proposals in detail, for line items like “HS Lab & Connector” and other things that “sound” less dire than “asbestos” most of that work is required infrastructure and only a fraction of it is to actually improve the educational experience.  If you wanted to just “fix the problems” and ignore education, the bond would still be in the $60-70M range.  It would be irresponsible to not responsibly finish the job.

Vote YES-YES-YES on June 11th.  It’s the right thing to do for the children of Rye and for your pocketbook.

Tom Stein

Dear Editor,

I am an empty nester.  My last child graduated from Rye High School in 2018.  Like most other parents in Rye, we worried, cajoled, scrimped, and invested to give the best we could for our kids and their education.  We made sure our children understood that a good education is an opportunity that should never be squandered.

On June 11, all four of the voting members of the Jensen family will vote yes on the School Bond and we will do so in all three parts.  Many of my neighbors argue that a 30-year, 79-million dollar bond is not a good idea from a budget perspective.  Using a fairly narrow lens, they look at their property taxes and are more than happy to be convinced by loud voices to vote no.

Investing in our schools and the future of our community should never just be about fiscal conservatives focused primarily with budget issues.  It also shouldn’t be about fiscal liberals borrowing too much money and not spending it wisely.  It should be about a community coming together and voting on wise investments that will produce good social and economic returns over the long term.

For our family, the Rye City Schools have always been, and continue to be, an excellent investment.  The success of our students and the growth and resilience of our property values are a testament to that fact.  With respect to this bond, we have debated as a community and the school board has made adjustments based on that input.  Now it is time to take care of our aging infrastructure, replace our athletic field and update the performing arts center and many of our classrooms.  As a proud parent of former Garnet graduates, I want our public schools to reflect the best of teaching with learning spaces that encourage the competencies necessary for a rapidly changing labor market. 

We are lucky to live in Rye where the community has the wisdom and wherewithal to make smart, sustainable investments in the future.  Now we just need to show up and say yes.

Sincerely,

Jamie Jensen
I’m writing to express my support for the Rye City School District Bond vote on June 11. 

We moved to New York in 2013, choosing Rye over other communities because of the excellence and high ranking of the school district.  My two children have since graduated from RHS and moved on to college.  For me, voting to pass the bond is an investment in my property values and the future students of Rye City Schools. 

Classrooms designed for wood shop in the 1950’s and 60-year-old heating systems need to be replaced.  Secure entrances at all schools are an investment our kids deserve.  Crumbling walls and ceilings only get worse with time and more expensive to repair. 

Our neighbors in Port Chester, Mamaroneck, Scarsdale, and New Rochelle have all passed school bonds in the last 3 years.  Let’s join them in supporting our kids, their education, and our property values.  On June 11, I’ll be voting YES on propositions 1, 2, & 3. 

Amy Habeck
Three Reasons to Vote "Yes" 3 Times on June 11

When our family made the decision to leave the City we looked for over two years in six different areas before deciding to buy in Rye. Our number one consideration was quality schools. When we moved our kids were in preschool, so there was an extended period of time before we set foot in our local elementary school, Midland. When we entered Midland for the first time we were startled at the terrible condition of the facilities, especially the lack of security. We supported the March bond vote because it provided what we thought was a long-overdue project that would result in adequate facilities, not world-class, just reasonably acceptable.

When the bond failed to pass It was extremely disappointing, primarily because the outcome did not seem to reflect the true will of the Rye community as a whole. In particular, there seemed to be a general lack of accurate information and also many misconceptions about the proposed plan.  I have spent the last two months studying the school board’s bond proposal, and have attempted to look at it from the various perspectives of Rye residents. In believe there are three different reasons why people should vote “Yes"​ 3 Times for the school bond on June 11:

1. Vote “Yes” for your Wallet. Your taxes will barely go up - the annual increase on a $1.5 million home is $169. That's less than the tax impact of the overwhelmingly-supported budget vote in May.  We’re making an $80 million infrastructure investment which is supporting $9 BILLION of real estate value. That is an incredibly small investment supporting our home values - it would be extremely short-sighted to arbitrarily cut this investment in half. 

2. Vote “Yes” with your Head.  Buildings cost money, especially in Westchester County. ​To replace Midland ​alone would ​cost $50-70 million . We’re not getting shiny new schools, we’re getting renovated old ones - the school board's plan is a reasonable, cost-friendly approach. 

3. Vote “Yes” with your Heart. The bond is a long-term investment in the future of children: your children and grandchildren, as well as those of your neighbors and future neighbors (the people who will someday buy your home.) 

Please join me in voting "Yes" ​3 Times on June 11!

Tim Schott