Monday, May 19, 2014
~ from Board of Education members Jeffrey Mester, President; Karen Visser, Vice President, Alyson Gardner Kiesel, Victoria Tipp and Warren Messner
It has been said that complacency is the enemy of democracy. This Tuesday, May 20th, the Chappaqua Central School District will be holding its annual vote on the proposed budget as well as a vote for two seats on the Board of Education. We ask that all eligible voters in the school district please come and make your voice heard. Vote.
The vote is held at the Horace Greeley High School gymnasium from 7:00am to 9:00pm. There will be designated parking spots for voters near the gym entrance. This is an opportunity to have your voice heard. Unlike towns and municipalities whereby only the board or governing body votes on a budget, school district budgets are decided upon by the residents. This year, because we are once again under the NY State tax cap, the budget outcome will be decided by a simple majority.
The vote on Tuesday is the culmination of a year-long process of developing a budget. The administration, with guidance from the Board and input from the community, crafts the detailed budget. The Board has held 8 public meetings at which the budget and its components were discussed and vetted. The public has had the opportunity at all of those meetings to ask questions, make comment and make suggestions. We thank those who did. We also thank those residents that took the time to contact us via email, phone and in person.
While the School Board as a unit and the administration are prevented by law from directly advocating on behalf of our own proposed budget, we can say that this year’s budget, adopted unanimously by the Board of Education, has been vetted by both the Chappaqua PTA Executive Committee and the resident Financial Advisory Committee. It is below the State Tax cap.
In fact, because the district has stayed within the tax cap, even the reasonable approximate 1.7% increase in the tax levy will be refunded by NY State to all STAR-eligible households. Translated, all STAR eligible households will have no net increase in school taxes with this budget.
Some budget facts and highlights can be found on the district website at this link. As was written in that edition of Highlights sent to the entire community,
Although we are under the State tax cap, the adopted budget allows us to continue and expand the breadth and depth of our course offerings while we continue, without compromise, on our mission to educate and prepare students for a changing global economy by promoting critical and creative thinking skills while maintaining strong content knowledge.
At the same time, the adopted budget continues to recognize savings from the second and final year of recently signed employee contracts, a slight decline in enrollment, and increased State aid. We continue to work to find efficiencies and sustainable solutions necessary to help maintain the high level of academic excellence that define our schools.
Mindful of the property tax burden residents are asked to bear in order to support an excellent school district, the District will be using $2,350,000 in reserves to help minimize tax increases…
In short, this year’s proposed budget continues, as its goal, to find the proper balance between fiscal responsibility and academic program support. By again staying under the State tax cap, by using a responsible amount of district reserves, and by maintaining and even increasing academic offerings, we believe we have found that proper balance.
Please take the time to come vote on Tuesday May 20th and be heard.
The Chappaqua Central School District Board of Education
Jeffrey Mester, President
Karen Visser, Vice President
Alyson Gardner Kiesel
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