Budget Letter from the Superintendent, May 2006

Dear Community Member,

Our school budget is a financial plan in support of our academic program, rather than merely an accounting document. The budget process is educational because it allows us to carefully examine both the quality of opportunities available to our students as well as the operations and infrastructure of the Chappaqua School District.

The 2006-07 budget was developed based on six standards. We believe that it is essential to:

  1. Offer the highest quality educational programs while managing costs
  2. Maintain appropriate class ratios
  3. Support district goals and curriculum and instruction initiatives
  4. Provide for sufficient resources, including supplies, materials and equipment
  5. Maintain facilities that are safe and supportive of learning
  6. Meet legal mandates

The proposed budget for the 2006-07 school year was initially presented to the Board of Education in February. During the March and April meetings, the Board completed a comprehensive review of the budget and eventually adopted the budget on April 18. The proposed budget for 2006-07 totals $97,019,213, an increase of $7,292,240 or 8.1% over our budget for 2005-06. Projected tax rate increases are 7.2% in New Castle and 10.1% in Mt. Pleasant.

For the first time in many years, the enrollment increase has begun to level off as our district enrollment will grow only by 30 students. Despite this increase, we are able to eliminate three teaching positions in an effort to manage costs. However, our class size averages at both the elementary and secondary levels will remain the same. In addition to maintaining our current class size averages, the budget will keep our high standards of academic excellence and extracurricular activities for our students. We have funded curriculum initiatives in mathematics and reading, a necessary upgrade to our student database management system, and various field repair, building renovation, and facility maintenance projects.

Our budget challenges are similar to districts across the state and region. Contractual salary increases, health insurance and retirement system costs continue to drive a majority of the district's budget increases. Unfunded and under-funded mandates also place additional financial pressure on the district.

It is very clear that Chappaqua is an excellent system as measured by a number of indicators, both qualitative and quantitative. This budget gives us the necessary resources to become even better. Schools that embrace the value of academic excellence can only engage in a process of continual improvement if they have both the human and financial resources to do so.

The school budget vote will take place on Tuesday, May 16 from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. in the Horace Greeley High School gym. I am very optimistic that with community support we will strengthen a system that is already strong.


David Fleishman

May 2006/tm