On May 19, the Board of Education adopted a proposed budget for the 2020-21 school year. Chatham Central School District’s annual Budget Vote and Board of Education Election is June 9, 2020, with all voting taking place by absentee ballot, per an Executive Order issued by Governor Cuomo. On the ballots that were mailed out to all eligible voters in the District, residents will be asked to decide on a $32,356,855 budget for the 2020-2021 school year, elect candidates to fill three open seats on the Board of Education, and decide on a proposition to reduce the number of Board members from nine to seven.
The school budget carries a projected tax levy increase of 1.67 percent, which is below the allowable tax levy limit of 1.72 percent set by the NYS property tax cap. Spending is up a total of $773,465, a 2.45 percent increase from the current year’s budget that is due largely to inflation, contractual obligations, and rising health insurance and retirement costs. The District used reserves and fund balance to reduce the impact of revenue shortfalls on the budget and to help hold the tax levy increase under the tax cap.
Currently, budget projections from the state show school aid to be flat for next year. However, due to the COVID-19 crisis, Governor Cumo has indicated that NYS may need to make significant mid-year cuts to school aid if the state does not receive relief funding from the federal government. While Chatham’s proposed 2020-2021 budget reflects the current school aid projections, the District has also developed a plan, if need be, to offset any potential loss of state funding using reserves and carefully considered reductions in areas such as supplies, materials, conferences, and possibly staffing. These reductions would have minimal impact on our 2020-2021 educational program.
“We are looking forward to when our students return to campus and this budget ensures our schools will be able to function fully when they do,” said Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Sal DeAngelo. “While the future is definitely more uncertain than in past budget cycles, we are confident our long-term financial planning and conservative budgeting practices have kept Chatham in a position to weather the storm for the coming school year, and we are able to do it in a way that keeps both our students and our taxpayers in mind. Over the past eight years, Chatham has been able to provide tax levies that were either under or at the tax cap, and this year we are again able to offer a tax levy that is lower than the cap.”
Staffing levels were adjusted to reflect program needs. To strengthen services, a dean of students position was replaced with an assistant principal position, a counselor position was replaced with a psychologist position, and a network aide position was replaced with a network engineer position. In response to decreased need, one special education teaching assistant position was eliminated and one special education aide position was reduced from full-time to part-time.
Included in the budget are the purchases of one large school bus, one medium bus, and one minivan, part of the District’s ongoing bus replacement plan, which keeps our fleet running safely and reliably by replacing older, high-mileage vehicles. Also built into the budget is a small capital project to install security upgrades in our school buildings.
Voting on the budget will take place by absentee ballot only. Absentee ballots must be received by the District Clerk no later than 5:00 p.m. on the day of the vote.
A public hearing on the budget took place by video conference on May 26.
Visit our Budget Information page for more information and keep an eye on your mail for our annual budget newsletter to be mailed out in early June.