Developing the 2011-12 Chappaqua School District Budget

[New York State law requires that school districts present an annual budget to district voters for their approval each year on the third Tuesday in May. The Superintendent of Schools and other district administrators are responsible for developing the proposed budget, with guidance from the Board of Education and input from the community. ]

As we begin the budget development process tonight with a preview presentation, I'd like to say a few words about the task before us. And by us, I don't mean just the administration and the board. I mean the whole community - all of us.

Chappaqua is a community committed to excellence in education. For most of us, it's why we live here. For staff, it's certainly why you work here. We believe in the power of public education. We believe in investing in our children.

The task before us is daunting. We need to find a way to deliver the highest quality education to our children at a cost the community can afford. Over the years, Chappaqua tax payers have been incredibly supportive of our schools. But the kind of tax increases of the past are not possible or sustainable going forward.

The task is daunting, so it's good we're starting early. We open with a preview presentation tonight and continue with a follow up discussion in January, a proposed budget in February, and a line-by-line review beginning in March.

We've enlisted the help of volunteers from the community. Board members Jeff Mester and Randy Katchis are coordinating this effort with our Finance Advisory Committee. We are grateful to the 25 residents who stepped forward to do this work with us.

The board will adopt a final budget in April. We have a long process ahead. There will be many different points of view on what the final budget should look like. It will take all of us - board members, administration, district staff, community members with children attending our schools and community members without children currently in school. It will take all of us working together to create a budget that provides an excellent school experience for our kids and, at the same time, is acceptable to district tax payers. One without the other does not work.

It's a daunting task but I am confident that by working together, we will get there.

Janet Benton
President, Chappaqua Board of Education
November 16, 2011