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Chappaqua School Board Open to Working with Town

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. - Chappaqua Central School District's Board of Education is welcoming the idea of working with town officials in a joint venture to find more revenue streams and keep up with rising budget costs.

"It’s really time to look at other opportunities for revenue growth and to work with the Town," said Board of Education President Alyson Kiesel. "I think we rise and fall together and it’s important that we think long-term about what’s best for the town and for the district."

Warren Hart of the Finance Advisory Committee recommended the school board engage members of New Castle's town and planning boards to discuss district-owned properties and how they could be used to raise revenue.

"We have some unused assets," said Hart. "What’s the best way to use them? You can just go out and develop them, but maybe if you did them in conjuction with the town you might find you had some properties that, if you added them together, might be more attractive than just individual components."

According to school board member Jeff Mester, the district owns approximately 20 properties throughout the community. Board member Randy Katchis said the properties are currently being looked at by the district's facilities committee to determine what actions to take.

"Part of looking at any property is not only the ability to put them together – if the town has property and we have property that makes sense -  but also to start to understand what the zoning requirements are, what the best use is, and how can we extract the best value," Katchis said.

Katchis and other school board members unanimously agreed on a motion to accept Hart's recommendation of working with town officials. The district's facilities committee was tasked with approaching the town to initiate informal discussions.

"I’ll start to reach out to them, Jeff and I, and we’ll start to understand what synergies there may be and start to look at developing," said Katchis. "I think it’s a great idea."

Council member Jason Chapin responded to the school board's interest with a shared desire to collaborate.

"I think the current boards are very interested in doing more and I'm sure working together on mandate relief, pension reform and increasing state aid are at the top of the list," said Chapin. "We usually have a joint meeting in the fall and spring, but a date hasn't been picked yet for this spring. I'm really looking forward to working closely with the entire school board."

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