Board Adopts Proposed School Budget 2009-2010

April 22, 2009

Dear Community members,

Last night, the Board of Education unanimously adopted a proposed budget for the 2009-2010 school year. This year's proposed budget is $107,347,134. This represents a zero change from last year's budget. It is estimated that there will be no tax increase for residents of New Castle and a 2.56% increase for residents of Mt Pleasant. The proposed budget will be posted on the district's website and copies will be available in all school buildings as well as the Ed Center by April 30.

In an unprecedented move, the Board began the budget process back in November of 2008 when it asked the administration to explore the possibility of having a budget that had no increase over the prior year's budget while still maintaining the academic standards and ideals that make the Chappaqua Central School District the outstanding district that it is known to be.

At the January 27th Board meeting Superintendent Fleishman presented to the Board and the community a proposed budget reflecting the guidance the Board gave the administration at the November meeting. In addition to the budget, Fleishman also described the high standards of quality education that would be adhered to in constructing a budget.

Those operating standards are:

  • Ensure traditions of excellence in teaching and learning continue.
  • Maintain current class size ratios at elementary schools.
  • Come close to meeting current class size ratios at secondary schools.
  • Maintain existing structures (teams) at the middle school level.
  • Maximize efficiencies in scheduling personnel wherever possible and change schedules where appropriate.
  • Offer close to the same breadth and depth of course offerings and extra-curricular activities at Greeley.
  • Ensure that district buildings continue to be clean and well-maintained.
  • Ensure that school and district offices function efficiently and effectively.
  • Ensure that we meet all legal mandates.

In light of the extraordinary economic conditions facing the country and the Chappaqua community, this year's budget took on special importance to the entire district including those in the community with students in the schools, those residents without students, as well as teachers, administrators and staff.

It became apparent to the Board that this year's budget would require neighbors to work with neighbors to recognize and appreciate the often conflicting opinions on what was appropriate to include and exclude in the budget as well as what the appropriate priorities were to be for the district. The Board and the administration worked to include the feedback from the community gathered from the public comments at the February, March and April budget focused board meetings, the four PTA budget coffees, the numerous emails addressed to the Board as well as the significant number of informal contacts members of the Board received.

The proposed budget includes various efficiencies, savings and reductions that have afforded the Board the opportunity to meet and exceed the above mentioned standards. At the elementary school level, class sizes will remain the same. While there will be some staff shifts in special education and academic intervention services, levels of service will be similar to current levels. Art will continue to be offered once a week, although the classes will be 45 minutes in length, rather than 55-60 minutes.

At the middle school level, team teaching, the defining structure of the middle school philosophy, will remain. Middle school class size averages will remain the same. Changes in the middle school experience are primarily in the exploratory areas. Fifth graders will now have foreign language instruction everyday rather than the current every other day protocol. The new program will also incorporate additional time for reading and writing.

All students will continue to take courses in health, family and consumer science, and technology. However, they will receive a total of one-quarter to one-half year less of each of these classes over a four-year period. The most important curriculum units in each of these subject areas will continue to be taught by certified teachers in that discipline.

In the area of music, band and orchestra, as well as chorus will continue to be offered to all students as will general music lessons. However, students will now choose one of these courses rather than optionally two of three. Previously, those students who chose to take more than one music elective split the allotted music time between the two electives. The district will continue to seek to expand chorus opportunities for students who are taking instrumental music.

At the high school level, all elective courses offered this year will again be offered next year. The percentage of students able to take two science classes will not change. The new Chinese studies program begun this year will be expanded next year. Class size will increase by less than one pupil on average. Sports programs and extra-curricular activities will remain essentially the same, with minor spending reductions resulting from a decrease in the number of athletic contests at the league and section level.

State law requires the district to also establish a contingency budget. A contingency budget could be implemented by the Board directly in the event the proposed budget is defeated on the first vote or the Board has the right, but not the obligation, to propose a second budget for vote on the third Tuesday in June. The contingency budget agreed upon by the Board is $107,229,634 which is a .1% or $117,500 reduction from the proposed budget. The contingency budget identified by the Board is in compliance with state guidelines and regulations affecting school contingency budgets.

We believe that the 2009-10 proposed budget preserves and advances the academic standards by which the district has operated as well as responds to the fiscal responsibility the times demand. It is the result of collaborative efforts to address the community's needs. The vote on the school district and library budgets, as well as new board members, will be held on May 19, 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. in the Horace Greeley gym.

The Board of Education
Jay Shapiro
Jeffrey Mester
Janet Benton
Gregg Bresner
Susan Habermann