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Chappaqua School Board Votes No to BOCES Request

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. - The Chappaqua Central School District Board of Education voted in unanimous opposition on Tuesday night to BOCES' request of roughly $1.57 million in funds for capital projects.

"A no vote doesn't really represent a no to contributing to capital improvements," said school board member Victoria Tipp. "It represents the fact that we have to do our due diligence. We got a presentation, a few questions and answers, an opportunity to do that, but that's not good enough."

The board was upset over the lack of notice given to them by BOCES, believing the bill was sprung on them at the last minute.

"The proposal they have made shows a lack of understanding of the economics of it, how to run a business, a lack of analysis, and a whole host of other lacks," said school board member Jeffrey Mester.

The board believes BOCES failed to do enough long-term planning to justify the funds request and, with its vote of no, is hoping to re-open discussions to find more creative solutions.

"With all this information presented to us, they haven't really presented the long-term plan to us. How do we know that in ten years we're not gonna be asked again for another $1.5 million?" said school board member Karen Visser. "Our no isn't a hard no. Our no is a 'we need more information.'"

Board members also took issue with Chappaqua having to foot such a large portion of the bill, despite using the facilities less than other communities.

Though Chappaqua students do not use the BOCES facilities as much as those from other districts, BOCES Assistant Superintendent Tom Higgins told the board in November that contributions are based on a combination of true property value and district enrollment figures. Of the 18 districts, Chappaqua ranks near the top of both.

Despite the vote of no, the board will still be forced to pay for its share of the repairs. Higgins said that if the plan is not passed by the 18 districts, BOCES would have to declare an emergency and use district funds without notice.

Realizing it will be forced the foot such a large portion of the bill, the board is hoping to learn more about BOCES' programs and to work more closely with the school on its long-term planning.

"My no vote will be to start getting representation within that organization, which we own and have a liability for, to help them get back on top of things and get a process in place that won't allow this to happen again," said school board member Randy Katchis.

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