Dear Pelham Community,
The Pelham Board of Education directed the District to reduce the tax levy increase in the preliminary 2021-22 school budget to approximately 2.5% following a discussion at the virtual meeting held Wednesday evening, April 14.
To reduce the tax levy increase from the original proposal of 3.31%, the budget will allocate an additional $550,000 from the Debt Service Fund over the $1.1 million that was previously included in the preliminary budget proposal. These funds, totaling $1.65 million will offset the increase in the capital budget related to borrowing for the 2018 capital improvement bond which includes the construction of the new Hutchinson School, set to open this coming fall. Additional projects funded by the bond include the new turf field/tennis court replacements at Glover, the addition to Prospect Hill and refurbishment of the school field, and masonry repairs and the conversion of district offices into classrooms at PMHS. Importantly, the budget preserves some of the Debt Service Fund to mitigate the capital budget increase anticipated in the following year.
Jim Hricay, Assistant Superintendent for Business, explained that the District is set to receive approximately $1.6 million in additional aid with about $800,000 attributable to increased foundation aid from New York State and the remainder coming from funds provided in the Federal American Rescue Plan. The increased foundation aid will be used to reduce the District’s reliance on fund balance as a revenue in the budget, providing more stability in the budget for future years. While the District is still awaiting further guidance as to how the federal stimulus money can be used, Mr. Hricay noted that it can not be incorporated into the regular operating budget as these are one-time special aid funds intended to assist schools in meeting specific needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The District is may consider using these funds to hire fully virtual elementary school teachers for next school year if such a program remains necessary. Those funds may also be used to hire additional clinicians for the 2021-22 school year to address anticipated social-emotional needs of our students caused by the pandemic, among other purposes.
Overall, total appropriations in the 2021-22 budget are $80,280,000. In addition to preserving the District’s curriculum and programming, the budget includes funding for important initiatives such as:
- Expanding summer programming for students needing additional academic support
- Continuing professional learning to support the social and emotional need of students including the Steps A Universal DBT program, Responsive Classroom and Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS)
- Restoration of a World Language teaching position to meet program demands and enable the World Language Coordinator to better support the need of the District’s English Language Learners
- Adding a high school Science teacher to meet enrollment demands
- Continuing to provide teachers and students with learning resources necessary in both in person and virtual learning environments including software to support learning in literacy and numeracy
- Providing mobile learning devices to all students in grades 3-12 as well as exploring emerging technologies that support learning and teaching
- Expanding innovative and flexible furnishings
- Ensuring that class sizes across all grade levels are at or below Board of Education guidelines
The Board is expected to adopt the 2021-22 budget at its meeting at 7:30pm on April 21, 2021. The state-mandated public hearing on the budget will be held on Wednesday, May 5 and the community will then vote on the budget and elect two candidates to the Board of Education on Tuesday, May 18.
The Pelham Public Schools