SOMERS, N.Y. - Somers School District voters overwhelmingly passed the 2018-19 budget Tuesday allowing for the hiring of two additional School Resource Officers (SROs).
Voters also welcomed newcomer Heidi Cambareri to the Somers Board of Education for one of two open seats.
Incumbent Michael D'Anna was the top vote-getter with 518 votes. He returns to the board, joining Cambareri, with 477 votes.
School board president Sarena Meyer and newcomer Jill Schantz trailed with 427 and 370 votes, respectively.
The budget passed by a landslide, with 751 votes for and 191 votes against the spending package.
All results are unofficial until certified.
The $91.2 budget reflects an increase over last year’s $88.3 million budget of $2,927,191, or 3.31 percent. The tax rate will be $163.22 per $1,000 of assessed valuation from $159.86, a 2.10 percent increase.
The SROs will cost the district $266,866, but there will be no increase on the tax rate because the money will come from the fund balance.
The move means each of the district’s four schools will have an SRO throughout the school day. It was strongly supported by parents concerned after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in February.
SROs are members of the Westchester County Police and are trained specifically to work in a school environment.
Superintendent Dr. Raymond Blanch, saying that the "lion’s share” or about 77 percent, of the budget goes towards personnel costs, such as salaries and health insurance.
Blanch noted at a recent Board of Education meeting that Westchester Police have told the district they will be able to provide the SROs, “starting in September.”
As far as staffing changes go, there will be one less teacher at the Somers Intermediate School, due to a decline in enrollment. A school secretary at the elementary school level is expected to retire and will not be replaced. Instead, Primrose Elementary School and Somers Intermediate School will share a secretary.
Blanch said at a school board meeting that the district worked hard all year to produce a plan that maintains “reasonable” class sizes; keep arts and sports programs and extracurricular activities, such as clubs, intact; allow staff to continue to work on the “craft” of instruction; and stay within the New York State tax levy cap.