What are some of the fiscal challenges facing Rye’s school district?
As a community, we expect our schools to be among the very best--and they are! The Rye public schools are dedicated to educational excellence and have very high educational standards. However, many financial constraints face Rye and other school districts throughout New York State. These fiscal challenges make it difficult to raise all the tax revenue we need to support the educational excellence we expect. Some of those challenges include:
Does Rye need a foundation?
Yes we do! As many other communities have already realized, a school foundation to support the public schools is a valuable tool for fundraising for larger and/or extraordinary initiatives important to the entire community. Rye currently has five wonderfully successful parent teacher organizations and the Fund seeks to complement their success. While the Fund and Rye’s five parent teacher organizations are all organizations that exist to provide support critical to Rye schools’ success, the Fund is an organization established solely to raise money and make grants for the betterment of our school district as a whole. It is envisioned as an entity that will serve Rye public education for many years to come. The Fund seeks to develop a general fund to provide flexibility in making grants in support of whole school excellence. The Fund intends to build a broader sense of community responsibility beyond individual school needs and to further unify all five schools and preschools within the district by working closely with their administrative as well as their volunteer leadership. The Fund intends to coordinate with members of each of the five Rye parent organizations and other community members will necessarily play an important and informative role in the Fund as advisors regarding Rye’s school district needs.
Do other similar communities have foundations to support their school districts?
Many other communities in Westchester County have foundations to help provide fiscal support to their academic goals. In addition, Superintendent Dr. Alvarez’s former school district in Montclair, New Jersey has had an especially successful foundation since 1991: The Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence. As a non-voting Trustee for the Fund, Dr. Alvarez has and will continue to provide invaluable support and expertise to the Fund. Quite a few communities have had an educational foundation for decades. The following is a partial list of Westchester communities that have foundations supporting their schools:
Ardsley (since 1995)
Bedford (since 2012)
Blind Brook (since 1990)
Briar Cliff Manor (since 1995)
Bronxville (since 1991)
Byram Hills (since 1994)
Chappaqua (since 1993)
Dobbs Ferry (since 1994)
Edgemont (since 1993)
Harrison (since 1994)
Irvington (since 1996)
Katonah-Lewisboro (since 2010)
Mamaroneck (since 1996)
Pelham (since 1995)
Scarsdale (since 2012)
Tarrytown (since 1993)
the New York State school budget tax cap (without corresponding mandate relief);
the New York State multi-year tax freeze budget property tax rebate;
increasing costs outside of district administration’s control such as pension requirements and state-mandated, but unfunded programs;
the Gap elimination adjustment which resulted in significant reduction of New York State aid to Rye schools; and
tax certiorari awards resulting in reduction in tax dollars received by the district.
In addition, unlike many other school districts and because of our district’s success, student enrollment in our public schools has increased significantly over the past several years. That has meant the need for more teachers, expanded building space and increased related costs. It also places more demand upon the type of support the Fund seeks to make possible. Growing enrollment places further pressure on already limited resources. Deemed an affluent community, our school district receives relatively small amounts of state aid. The school district’s budgetary expenditures are illustrated in the chart to the right revealing very little discretionary spending in the district’s budget.
In the context of these fiscal challenges and as many other school districts have already recognized, private funding support is needed to continue cutting-edge school excellence.
How will the Fund help Rye’s school district address fiscal challenges?
Rye’s school district needs both tax dollars for ordinary year-to-year budget items such as teacher salaries and other operating costs and support for non-recurring expenditures that will continue to make educating children in Rye so special. In order to deliver the excellence demanded, the Fund seeks to provide support for the “extras” needed to ensure that cutting-edge resources are available to our teachers and our students.
Rye’s administrators, teachers and its school board do their best each year to achieve excellence for our schools given our budget. But there are often things that our budget cannot cover that are integral to creating a stimulating and challenging learning environment. The school district’s budgetary expenditures are illustrated in the chart below revealing very little discretionary spending in the district’s budget.
While the Fund’s resources are not intended to help fill ordinary budgetary gaps, the Fund seeks to help alleviate the fiscal burden on our school district by providing funds for other important things the district may not be in a position to afford in its budgets. The Fund seeks to provide that extraordinary and critical support needed to supplement our tax dollars toward the end of continuing school excellence and pressing the envelope on educational innovation.
Are Rye’s public schools fiscally well managed?
Rye school district management has been fiscally prudent as borne out by the district’s continued triple AAA rating from Moody’s. Rye’s cost per pupil and our true value tax rate have historically been lower than all of our peer districts. See below charts for 2012 and 2013, respectively.
* Westchester-Putnam School Boards Association facts & Figures 2012
* Westchester-Putnam School Boards Association facts & Figures 2013
Am I getting value for my school property tax dollars? And why should I give to the Fund if I do not have children in the schools?
Regardless of whether or not you are a resident who sends children to Rye public schools, the Fund will almost certainly help you. Studies have shown school quality is the single most important factor for maintaining strong home values in a community. (See e.g., Nonlinear Effects of School Quality on House Prices, Abbigail J. Chiodo, Ruben Hernandez-Murillo and Michael T. Owyang, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Review, May/June 2010, 92(3) pp. 185-204). The benefits of strong public schools provide an advantage to all homeowners regardless of school participation. There is little doubt that strong schools help Rye property values remain strong. Click this other FAQ link for more information: How does investment in our schools impact Rye’s property values?
Residents who send their children to Rye’s public schools should consider these facts:
Each child sent to Rye’s public schools costs the district about $22,000 per year to educate
School taxes make up about 66% of each resident’s tax bill
If a family pays $40,000 in property taxes per year, the district receives about $26,400 as school taxes
This is enough money to educate 1.2 children in Rye public schools
If a family paying $40,000 in property taxes sends 2 or more children to the Rye public schools the cost of educating those children exceeds the amount paid in school property taxes each year:
School taxes paid of $26,400 (66% x $40K):
minus $44,000 (the cost of educating 2 children in Rye) = -17,600 shortfall per year
minus $66,000 (the cost of educating 3 children in Rye) = -39,600 shortfall per year
minus $88,000 (the cost of educating 4 children in Rye) = -61,600 shortfall per year
Rye’s cost per pupil and our true value tax rate have historically been lower than all of our peer districts. Click this other FAQ link for more information: Are Rye’s public schools fiscally well managed?
We think all residents receive value for their school property tax dollars. Our taxes school taxes help pay for our schools and help achieve educational excellence and strong property values for all residents in the Rye community.
How does the Fund differ from Friends of Rye City School District?
The Friends of Rye City School District is a grass roots organization dedicated to school excellence and responsible fiscal management. Friends is an advocacy organization that seeks to provide taxpayers with information they need to understand the expenditure of public funds by our school district, and once voters are informed, Friends encourages members of the community to support the school district. The Fund is a separate organization from Friends in its various initiatives and programs.
Does the Fund have a mission statement?
Yes we do! The Rye Fund for Education is committed to enriching the learning experiences of Rye City School students and ensuring that they have the opportunities and skills necessary to succeed in college and beyond. We believe every student should have the opportunity to become a scholar, an athlete, an artist and a citizen of the world. We seek to enhance the quality of public education in our community by engaging the support and energies of educators, citizens, parents, students and alumni.
What are the Fund’s goals?
The Fund’s general goal is to provide moneys to support areas critical to enriching our students’ educational experience and to provide funding for the high quality public school education we have come to expect in Rye. More specifically, the Fund seeks to:
support Rye’s five public schools in the areas of academics, arts and athletics;
fund innovative programs enriching the educational experiences of students both inside the classroom and beyond;
inspire and encourage teachers through professional learning opportunities; and
offer residents of Rye a community-led vehicle to contribute to public education and strengthen the future of our community.
How will money be raised for the Fund?
The Fund will seek donations to the general fund and will also launch direct letter and other campaigns for specific projects and for development of a general fund. The Fund will focus on academics, arts and athletics. The hope is that we will have at least one letter campaign each year culminating in a large fundraising event and perhaps other smaller events throughout the year that are coordinated and supported by the district’s administration, parents and alumni of the Rye City Schools.
Are alumni important to the Fund?
Yes. We expect alumni to be a very important part of the Fund! Our alumni involvement will speak volumes about the impact Rye’s schools have had on the lives of our alumni.
Will the Fund raise money to fill budget gaps?
The Fund’s mission does not include raising money for ongoing core programs and operating expenses of the schools, including funding teachers’ salaries or those of other professionals. The Rye City Schools are not private schools; they are public and as such taxpayers are obligated to support the ongoing and continuing operating expenses of the schools. The Fund is intended to raise private funds to support efforts ensuring our school district continues its history of academic and extra-curricular excellence and allowing the district to remain competitive with its peer districts.
What are some of the possible projects for funding in each of the academics, arts and athletics?
The Fund is dedicated to “Triple AAA” -- Arts, Athletics and Academics. The Fund will support programs enriching the educational experiences of Rye students both inside the classroom and beyond. Donors will have an opportunity to choose a particular campaign to support or they may decide to provide donations to a general fund to be distributed by the Fund’s Board of Trustees for the benefit of Rye students. The types of projects that might be considered include:
Academics: Modernizing the library/media center, literature and writing initiatives, innovation grants for piloting new programs (e.g., Project Lead the Way- new engineering program at Rye High School started fall 2014); and investing in cutting-edge technology for our schools;
Arts: Renovation of the performing arts center and other performing arts enhancements;
Athletics: Construction of a fitness center, construction of a modern field house and renovation of the upper field and restoration of the existing Nugent Field.
What is the process by which projects will be approved?
The Fund will employ a rigorous procedure for evaluating projects in coordination with the school district. This coordination is ensured by the active participation of the Superintendent as a non-voting member of the Fund’s Board of Trustees and the School Board Liaison to the Fund.
How will the Fund interface with the school district to ensure the best allocation of funds?
In order to achieve success as an educational foundation, the Fund will necessarily actively engage Rye’s school district leadership. By design, the Superintendent of Schools is a non-voting member of the Fund’s Board of Trustees and a member of the school district’s Board of Trustees serves as a school board liaison. By actively engaging the school district administration and the school board in this manner, the Board of Trustees seeks to ensure consistency in prioritizing school district needs toward the end of achieving the common good for the school district. While the school board must approve gifts to the district, grant decisions will be made by the Fund’s Board of Trustees.
Why make a donation to the Fund rather than making a donation directly to the school?
The Fund seeks to create an organized and efficient means by which special programs and initiatives can be supported collectively by the community consistent with the school district’s stated goals. The Fund seeks to streamline a donation process to ensure that gifts impact Rye students in a meaningful way and for years to come.
How does investment in our schools impact Rye’s property values?
Studies have shown the quality of a community’s schools is the single most important factor for maintaining strong home values. (See e.g., Nonlinear Effects of School Quality on House Prices, Abbigail J. Chiodo, Ruben Hernandez-Murillo and Michael T. Owyang, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Review, May/June 2010, 92(3) pp. 185-204). The benefits of strong public schools provide an advantage to all homeowners regardless of whether a family has one or more children in the school system. In this rapidly changing, competitive and technology-driven world, it is critical that we have the necessary resources available in our schools in order to maintain the high caliber of programs, the excellent reputation of our schools and our strong property values.
What amount should I give?
Gifts of any size are welcome and make a difference! Every gift is meaningful to the Fund regardless of size. The Fund seeks to have widespread community participation for our schools through whatever contribution each family can afford or is willing to give.
How can I make a donation or get involved to help the Fund?
The Fund is interested in galvanizing the support of the entire Rye community and it welcomes the financial donations and volunteer spirit of all community members within the Rye City School District as well as donations from any other sources, including bequests, employer matching, charitable trusts and gifts from corporations and individuals. Please always feel free to contact any Fund Officer or member of the Board of Trustees with your ideas and/or to lend your support. To make a tax-deductible donation, simply click the “Donate” button on this website and follow the prompts or send a check or money order payable to “Rye Fund for Education, Inc.” and addressed to:
Rye Fund for Education, Inc.
411 Theodore Fremd Avenue
Suite 100 South
Rye, New York 10580
I’ve heard student enrollment has been steadily growing. How much is enrollment growing and how is the district addressing that growth?
Unlike many other school districts and because of our district’s success, student enrollment in our public schools has increased significantly over the past several years. (See chart to the right). That has meant the need for more teachers, expanded building space and increased supplies and related costs. The district has hired new teachers and it has expanded learning space with renovation of existing space and the addition of the new high school wing.