CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – Taxpayers can expect their school levy to increase 2.4 percent under the 2013-14 budget presented to the Chappaqua Board of Education Wednesday night.
“It’s a real challenge to put together a budget, and I’m feeling really good about this one,” Superintendent Lyn McKay said of her first budget as schools chief.
McKay also announced the “great news” that the Chappaqua Congress of Teachers (CTC) and the Board of Education have reached a memorandum of agreement.
The budget presented to the Board of Education comes in at $114,828,088 — $2,625,200 more than 2012-13 — and represents a 2.34 percent increase and 2.4 percent tax levy increase.
Although the state-mandated tax levy cap is around 2 percent, the proposed budget would stay under the levy with tax exemptions.
When the district took its first look at a budget outline last month, such a budget did not seem feasible. However, the district has had pleasant surprises since then, most notably receiving more state aid than expected ($456,576), and working out a new contract with the CTC that will save an additional $500,000.
“We will continue to be tight and very careful. I have great confidence that we will continue a strong teaching and learning program, especially in the next couple of years,” said McKay. “So we feel very good about that.”
Although the budget proposal was generally positive, there still were sacrifices.
The district will cut 12.39 jobs, with 8.9 of those positions being teachers. If these cuts hold up through an adopted budget, the district will have cut more than 100 jobs since 2009.
While the district’s staff would be down essentially 9 teachers, next year’s projected student enrollment will be down 53 kids. The district anticipates a drop of 36 elementary students, 27 fewer middle school students and an increase of 13 high school students. With this trade-off, class sizes throughout all levels are expected to remain right around where they are now.
“We are tighter; we know. But we will be okay,” said McKay. “What this budget will do is move our programs forward in terms of education, which is most important.”
The Board of Education was appreciative of the work that went into McKay’s first budget proposal.
“We know this took a tremendous amount of work and a lot of thought. We’re in a very good place,” said Board of Education President Victoria Tipp. “We are seeing a lot of improvement, a lot of innovation and future-looking, which is very encouraging, especially considering these fiscal times.”
McKay’s proposal is only the first step in the following three-month budget process:
March 6: Budget presentation on curriculum and technology
March 13: Budget presentation on special education and athletics
Marcg 20: Budget presentation on operations and maintenance and fund balance
April 3: Budget presentation on revenue, tax rates and contingency
April 17: Budget adoption
May 8: Budget hearing
May 21: Budget vote
Additionally, Chappaqua PTA-sponsored community forums on the proposed budget are scheduled for Tuesday, March 5 at 9:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. in the Robert E. Bell Middle School. A community Q&A on the adopted budget will be held Thursday, May 9, at 7:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m.