The Record-Review – The official newspaper of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York


June 17, 2011

Katonah Country Day School

Only those who believe that the highest cost brings the best results will be content with a startling analysis by the Katonah-Lewisboro School District’s school board finance committee. The committee compared the per-pupil expenditures in Katonah-Lewisboro to five local school districts to see how the district compares with its neighbors. These included Harrison, Scarsdale, Byram Hills, Bedford Central and Chappaqua.

New York State is the most expensive state for education in the country, spending an average of $18,126 per student in 2008-2009, according to the U.S. Census Bureau — 73 percent higher than the national average of $10,499. Salaries and teacher benefit costs per pupil are the highest in the nation.

According to the Empire Center for New York State Policy and the Business Council’s Public Policy Institute, Westchester County spends, on average, $24,636 per pupil, the most in New York State, just ahead of Nassau County’s $24,535 and well ahead of Suffolk County’s $22,015.

In Westchester, the Katonah-Lewisboro School District spends more than any of the comparable districts studied by the finance committee. The $27,197 that Katonah-Lewisboro spent is $1,513, or 5.9 percent, above the average for the six districts. Chappaqua spent the least of the six at $24,814. Bedford Central spent $25,032.

According to the finance committee report, the areas that raised Katonah-Lewisboro’s expenses among the comparable districts were instruction, benefits and transportation.

At these rates, we should be getting results — college placements, internships, awards, honors and opportunities — similar to those at the most prestigious private schools. Day students at Phillips Exeter, for example, pay only 12 percent more than Katonah-Lewisboro per student, at a cost of $31,000 per year. Dalton School students pay $35,300, a little more than 20 percent more than Katonah-Lewisboro, but for that price the school offers a 7-1 faculty-to-student ratio.

Apples to oranges? Maybe. Maybe not.

Historically, families have moved to the suburbs for quality of life and educational opportunities. If the second part of that equation is to hold true, at this cost, the education at Katonah-Lewisboro must resemble that of a first-rate independent school.

The finance committee is to be commended for attacking an unpopular topic and bringing important information before the public. We also commend the committee for the “Next Steps” portion of their project report, which is available on the district’s website.

The committee seeks detailed analysis of the employee benefits category to determine why it is so high. The committee recommends contract analysis to determine if Katonah-Lewisboro’s contracts are broadly more generous than comparable districts or if Katonah-Lewisboro’s student-teacher ratio is substantially different from other districts. “Decisions based on this and the additional analysis should be made in the context of the community’s desire to have a high-performing school district; the importance of attracting, developing and retaining top-quality teachers, staff and administration; and constraints on the community’s ability and willingness to shoulder higher tax burdens.”=

There are some who believe that the best way to educate our children is to throw money into the schools. But we have to wonder how many struggling with the burden of rising property taxes and costs in a stagnant economy are going to be able to swallow the luxury car prices for minivan results.

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Pound Ridge/Scotts Corners

  1. Scotts Corner Market – Trinity Corners Shopping Center;  55 Westchester Avenue

  2. Pound Ridge Sunoco — 66 Westchester Avenue    

  3. Sam Parker Country Market — 257 Westchester Avenue    

Bedford Village

  1. Bedford Rexall Pharmacy — Hunting Ridge Mall; 424 Old Post Road  

  2. Village Green Deli — Village Green; Routes 22 and 172    

  3. Bedford Shell — Routes 22 and 172 (at blinking light); 848 So. Bedford Road

  4. Village Service Center —193 Pound Ridge Road (at Long Ridge Road intersection)    

Bedford Hills

  1. Bedford Hills Deli – 7 Babbitt Road    

  2. Bueti’s Deli – 526 Bedford Road (Route 117)


  1. NoKA Joe’s – 25 Katonah Avenue    

  2. Steger’s Paper Mill – 89 Katonah Avenue    

  3. Perks – 197 Katonah Avenue    

  4. Katonah Pharmacy – Katonah Shopping Center; 294 Katonah Avenue   

  5. Bagel Shoppe – Katonah Shopping Center; 280 Katonah Avenue    

  6. Katonah Sunoco – 105 Bedford Road

Mount Kisco

  1. Teamo/Mt. Kisco News – 239 Main Street    

  2. Connie’s at Northern Westchester Hospital
    400 E. Main Street    

South Salem/Vista

  1. JNR Pharmacy – 222 Oakridge Commons;
    Route 123   

Cross River

  1. Bagel Boys Café – Cross River Shopping Center; Routes 121 and 35    

  2. Cross River Shell Station – Route 35    

  3. Cameron’s Deli –  890 Route 35    

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