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Chappaqua Schools Seek Unfunded Mandate Relief

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – Chappaqua Central School District Board of Education members are seeking relief from waves of unfunded mandates by taking advantage of the state's recently-enacted Mandate Relief Council .

According to board member Victoria Tipp, the district is entitled to three requests to modify mandates that have been imposed upon the districts by the state. Looking at a list of possible mandates, the school board held a discussion on Tuesday night about which "big ticket items" they would like to see reduced.

One mandated area the board looked at was district-provided transportation. The district must currently provide busing up to 15 miles for private school students within the district. Tipp said the district could save over $1 million by simply reducing the allowable milage to five.

According to Assistant Superintendent for Business John Chow, the district provides busing for 86 private school students at approximately 20 different schools. Despite the money the district would save, Chow said the private school transportation is actually low compared to similar districts.

The board also discussed capping health insurance, freezing step increases, paying for "burden of proof" cases involving special education placements, pension, and more.

No decisions on which mandates to target were settled on Tuesday, however, the board hopes to reach a decision in order to present its case soon.

"It's better to present our request sooner than later," said board member Randy Katchis.

After hearing comment from the district, the Mandate Relief Council can choose to eliminate or reduce the mandate if it is determined that it is being imposed in an “unsound, unduly burdensome or costly manner so as to necessitate that it be eliminated or reformed.”

School board President Alyson Kiesel said the district is not limited to items on the list it read from on Tuesday night, and will do its homework before making a decision. The board will discuss the issue further on March 27 and will continue to narrow down the list of mandates it wishes to challenge.

"It's American Idol," Kiesel said.

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