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Pleasantville Schools Seek Relief From Mandates

PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. – Pleasantville Union Free School District Board of Education members are seeking relief from waves of unfunded mandates by taking advantage of the state's recently-enacted Mandate Relief Council .

According to Board President Lois Winkler, the district is entitled to three requests to modify mandates that have been imposed upon the districts by the state, which the board decided on at a March 6 meeting.

"We were limited to three; we couldn’t approve more than three," Winkler said. "We would have been happy to approve more than three."

According to Superintendent Mary Fox-Alter, the reason for the limit was to highlight the most important mandates. Board member Shane McGafee said Westchester and Putnam schools expressed interest in targeting the same mandates so there was strength in numbers.

"We’re trying to send a message that these are the top mandates," McGafee said. "The ones that cost us the most. The ones that are most onerous. Because they realize ‘hey, we’re all having the same problems.’"

The three mandates the district will attempt to repeal are: Article 19 of the New York Retirement & Social Security Law, which would require tiers III and IV to recontribute into the retirement system; a section in the education law that would remove seniority as the sole factor in reducing tenured staff; and an amendment to the Taylor Law that would freeze step increases when a contract expires.

"We went 10 years ago from $67,000 up to $2.1 million in terms of contribution," Fox-Alter said about pension costs. "That’s significant money. That’s the reason that shows up on everybody’s list."

After hearing comment from the district, the Mandate Relief Council can choose to eliminate or reduce the mandate if it is determined that it is being imposed in an “unsound, unduly burdensome or costly manner so as to necessitate that it be eliminated or reformed.”

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