Dr. Cheryl Champ provided the Board of Education an overview of the superintendent’s proposed budget on Tuesday, Feb. 26. The budget proposal, which complies with the tax cap, preserves the robust level of academic and extracurricular programming offered at the Pelham Public Schools and continues to meet the goals of the District’s Strategic Plan.
The Board of Education will now begin consideration of the proposal and is scheduled to conduct an all-day, line-by-line review of the budget on Saturday, March 9 from 9 am - 3 pm in the Middle School Library. This review is open to the public and will be broadcast on the District website and on local cable access TV channels. The remainder of the budget schedule is as follows:
Tuesday, March 26 - Regular BOE Meeting, Budget Discussion
Tuesday, April 9 - Regular BOE Meeting, Budget Discussion
Tuesday, April 23 - Budget Adoption, BOCES Budget Adoption
Tuesday, May 7 - State-mandated public hearing on budget
Tuesday, May 21 - Budget Vote and School Board Election
The proposal maintains and expands upon the District’s rich programming, including extending the Foreign Language Elementary School (FLES) program into the fifth grade utilizing existing staff, completing the rollout of that program grades 2-5. Additionally, the budget increases dual-enrollment, AP and elective courses at PMHS, maintains professional development for all staff, including for implementation of the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme in grades 6-10, refreshes textbooks and instructional resources at various grades/subject areas and provides for the addition of unified sports, girls ice hockey and the continuation of all existing extracurricular and athletic opportunities. The District’s 1-to-1 Chromebook Initiative will also continue with a refresh of devices in grades 7 and 10.
“Over the course of the last several weeks, our administrative team has worked extremely hard to comb over our budget and ensure that each dollar is being spent to further our students’ education,” said Dr. Champ. “We consistently seek ways to make our operations more efficient while continuing to grow as a District and achieve the goals laid out in our Strategic Plan.”
Salaries and benefits aligned to the District’s collective bargaining contracts account for 78.3% of all appropriations. Major budget drivers include contractual salary increases for employees, increasing health insurance costs, and increased costs for Pupil Personnel Services. This budget factors in savings from five teacher retirements and reduces the amount of appropriated reserves used to balance the budget, providing long-term stability for the District’s finances. The budget also absorbs anticipated rent for the planned relocation of central offices within the facilities budget. Overall, the budget-to-budget increase is 1.93% over the 2018-19 fiscal year.
In addition to the aforementioned cost drivers, the budget include important changes to the capital budget that are excluded from the tax cap calculation. Specifically, this includes an anticipated decline in State Building Aid of approximately $500,000 (from previously completed capital projects) and the addition of approximately $450,000 in Bond Anticipation Note interest payments, which represents the first phase of borrowing for the 2018 Capital Improvement Bond. After factoring in allowable exclusions, the maximum allowable tax levy limit is 3.9%.
“I look forward to working with the Board to refine our budget over the next several weeks,” said Dr. Champ. “This proposal is just the first step in our budget process and we will continue to update the community through the spring.”
The preliminary budget is expected to be posted to www.pelhamschools.org by next week.