Mamaroneck Makes Massive Budget Cuts

With state funding cut, how has the district had to adjust? What has been lost?

Abby Tucker, News Page Director

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Mamaroneck Union Free School District is projected to lose $1.5 million in aid from New York State for the 2020-2021 school year (as stated in emails from the school district to the community). The pandemic has also added costs. Schools now have temperature-taking machines at entrances, teachers have webcams and multiple browser screens installed in their classrooms, and the district has to pay to keep HVAC systems (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) running at all times. Additionally, the district has lost revenue from facility use amidst the shutdown. For example, local sports leagues typically pay to use school gyms, but these gyms were closed for the pandemic, causing the district to lose this source of revenue. These factors have resulted in significant budget cuts for this school year. According to messages to the community, the school administration is committed to “maintain the quality of the educational experience for students,” but the district has had to strategically cut staff, programs, and experiences that were unlikely to remain possible during the pandemic. 

One of the programs affected by budget cuts is the arts. For this school year, the school musical as well as PACE shows have been cut from the budget. The hope is that music concerts and other performances could continue in a virtual format, perhaps live-streamed to an audience at home. Last spring, the music department’s Honors Recital and the PACE Senior Recital were both televised on LMCTV, containing pre-recorded videos of student performances. Beyond performances, the arts curriculum at MHS was also reduced. Only sophomores and seniors enrolled in PACE will receive music instruction this year, as PACE music teacher Mr. Derby now doubles as an elementary music teacher. Arts students at MHS feel like they are always unfairly impacted by budget cuts, especially this time. PACE student Vanessa Parra says, “It is unfortunate that not only here at MHS but in other schools across the country that we see the arts always getting the same treatment. The arts are just as important as any other academic activity students do and need to be treated like they matter.”

Sports also saw significant budget cuts district-wide. The pandemic has already limited the ability of sports teams to travel and compete with other schools, so the administration reflected this in the reduced budget to try to move limited funds elsewhere. Modified sports at Hommocks experienced significant cuts due to the announcement from Section 1 that there would be no modified sports this fall. Hommocks is currently trying to organize intramural sports for some fall teams. At MHS, freshmen sports teams were cut, leaving only one junior varsity and one varsity team per sport. 

Clubs have also lost much of their funding, including robotics and FBLA. However, many clubs at MHS have yet to start in full swing, so the full scale of how budget cuts will affect clubs this year is yet to be seen. Despite the budget cuts, programs are coming up with innovative ways to work with reduced funding and with social distancing guidelines to preserve the student experience at MHS.