By April 23, the Board of Education will adopt a final spending plan for next year.
The public vote is on May 21.
- This budget must be below the tax cap set by New York State for the Pelham Schools.
- Maintaining favorable class size and current programs are paramount.
Up-to-date information on the budget can be viewed under District Announcements on this home page. Click. Information on voter registration and eligibility is included. A School Board Candidates Debate is scheduled for Thursday, April 25 at 7:30 pm in Alumni Hall.
State Formula Sets School District Tax Cap at 4.07%
A New York State tax cap for local governments and school districts limits the increase in the tax levy to the lesser of the CPI or 2%, plus certain exclusions. These exclusions include capital expenditures (net of building aid) and pension costs. The tax cap for the Pelham Schools based on the State formula is 4.07% for this year.
Budget Reduces Staff to Offset Mandated and Contractual Increases
Employee benefits – controlled and mandated by New York State - are up $2,238, 530 next year and are one of the biggest budget drivers. To offset increases, the budget proposal includes a net reduction of 7.4 employees. Two elementary teaching positions were reduced based on lower than anticipated registration for kindergarten for next year and a corresponding low birth rate, a trend seen in Westchester and nationally. Funds are available if an additional section is needed due to enrollment increase. The budget also includes funding for 10 interns who are certified teachers and are assigned to classes in need of extra support.
The original budget also included a decrease in a full time psychologist and a special education teacher but these two positions are likely to be reinstated to support the addition of a new middle school program for students with special needs. These students would otherwise have to attend out-of-district programs at a cost borne by the district.
The budget will build on the excellence and rigor in the K-12 program through increased opportunities for enrichment, extension and remediation; implementation of recommendations of the Social Studies and Mathematics Task Forces; high quality staff development; maintaining favorable class size; and analysis and revisions of the implementation of new state mandates. New electives in English for high school seniors and splitting the popular 9th grade science research course into two half-year courses are also on the agenda. The latter will allow students to try the program without a commitment for the year. The middle school will offer a 7th grade honors math program next year and the K-5 enrichment/intervention block will be enhanced.
Although the state budget is not yet finalized, state aid projections show a slight increase. Since 2008-9, however, state aid as a percentage of revenue has decreased from 9.51% to the projected 7.86% for next year. Miscellaneous receipts are down by $208,608 due to a decrease in out-of-district tuitions. The Board Finance Committee recommended a $500,000 increase in appropriated fund balance and a $50,000 increase in appropriations from the Employment Retirement System to offset tax increases.
In addition to the middle school special needs program, several outstanding issues must be decided by the Board, including allocation of $150,000 in the budget that was included for school security. The Board recently heard a preliminary report based on a safety audit of the schools that was requested following the Newtown shootings in December.
Requests were also made to reinstate a full schedule of games for modified sports to support the Middle School philosophy to provide opportunity for as much student participation as possible. Also proposed is a junior varsity hockey team and an additional $4000 for a part-time strength and conditioning coach to avert common injuries experienced by high school athletes. Funding to support an additional day for a high school Student Assistance Counselor who works part time with students on substance prevention and abuse issues was also proposed.
Your participation in the budget process is always welcome.
Charles T. Wilson, Ed. D.