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Chappaqua Schools Preview 2012-13 Budget

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. - The Chappaqua Central School District previewed its 2012-13 budget this week and explained how it plans on moving forward in the face of the state-mandated tax levy cap.

"We know the importance of being both efficient and effective," said Superintendent Lyn McKay. "Efficiency is not difficult. Being effective is not difficult. Being effective and efficient can be very difficult."

The district's ultimate goal is to comply with the cap. To do so, it will need to make $1.3 million more in cuts but would not give specifics due to all the figures not being known. Assistant Superintendent John Chow teacher pension, state aid and other figures have not yet been made available.

What the district does know will affect the 2012-13 budget, however, is a $350,000 reduction in federal aid, a projected enrollment decline of 17 students, teachers and administrators contracts, a 3 percent increase in health insurance premiums, a 2.6 percent increase in the employee retirement system, equalization rates, and a new middle school schedule .

"Instructionally, (the schedule) is a good decision, but also there's a financial impact piece to this," said Chow. The change is expected to save the district between $500,000-600,000 in reduced staffing.

Repeating much of what was said during Knowledge Café on Dec. 7, McKay and Chow also wanted to give an idea of why the budget has increased by over $49 million in the last ten years, and how they hope to temper those increases moving forward.

Chow said that the increase was mostly a result of the rising salaries and benefits for teachers and administrators, which, at $82,981,341, makes up 74.46 percent of the district’s expenditures.

Chow also said the budget has been high in year’s past due to increases in pension contributions, consumer price index, and enrollment, which resulted in the hiring of 25 new teachers from 2003-05. Since 2009, however, the district said they have decreased personnel by 77 teaching, support, custodial and administrative positions.

Despite the cuts, many residents took to the podium to express concern over the rising benefits, believing them to be unsustainable.

McKay will unveil a rough budget proposal on Feb. 28 and the board will adopt a budget on April 10. The budget vote will then take place on May 15. If the vote fails, the district may hold another vote, or go to a contingency budget, which is a 0 percent increase from the year before.

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