Chatham Central School District 2023-24 Budget: PASSED 321 yes – 116 no
Proposition #2 - Student Representative on the Board of Education: PASSED 378 yes – 57 n
On April 4, Chatham’s Board of Education adopted a proposed budget for the 2023-24 school year. The budget totals $34,372,292 and carries a projected tax levy increase of 1.98 percent, which is under the District’s 3.52 percent limit set by New York State’s property tax cap. This represents the largest difference between what the tax cap allows and the actual tax levy increase since the tax cap became law. Spending is up a total of $754,191, a 2.24 percent increase from the 2022-23 budget.
Budget highlights include no program cuts or layoffs and the addition of a full-time speech pathologist position at Mary E. Dardess Elementary School, the addition of a k-5 literacy coach position, increased support for academic intervention services at Chatham Middle School, increased cross-curricular literacy learning in 8th grade, and the addition of American History Through Film & Music, Music Technology & Production, and Studio in Media Arts classes at Chatham High School. Budget reductions include the elimination of a kindergarten teaching position (due to decreased enrollment) and the elimination of a vendor contract that provided part-time speech pathologist service
Included in the budget is the purchase of one 35-passenger gas school bus and one 66-passenger gas school bus, which will replace two 13-year-old 66-passenger buses with mechanical issues as part of the District’s ongoing bus replacement plan. For every dollar spent on bus purchases, the District receives approximately $0.31 (31 percent) back in aid from New York State.
Also built into the budget is a small capital project to improve the ceiling and audio-visual instructional technology in the high school auditorium. As a capital project, the work is eligible to receive 50 percent back in state aid.
Board of Education Meeting - Proposed 2023-24 Budget - April 4, 2023
Board of Education Meeting (3rd Part of Budget) - March 28, 2023
Board of Education Meeting (1st Part of Budget & 2nd Part of Budget) - March 15, 2023
Board of Ed. Meeting (Projected State Aid) - February 7, 2023
2023-24 Budget Development Calendar
Contrary to popular belief, the NYS property tax cap does not cap tax increases at 2%. Instead, schools must use a state formula each year to determine how much they can increase their tax levies by without having to seek a higher percentage of voter approval for the budget. This threshold may be different each year and must be determined by the District and submitted to the state by March 1st.
For 2023, Chatham's allowable tax levy increase is 3.52%
If the year-to-year increase of the District’s tax levy (portion of the school budget funded by property tax) is at or below the number determined by the cap, a simple majority (50% + 1) of voter approval is needed to pass the budget. If the budget proposal carries a tax levy increase above the cap, a super majority (60%) of voter approval is needed for the budget to pass. More information on the NYS Property Tax Cap is available on the NY State Education Department Website.
The tax levy is the dollar amount that is raised by annual property tax to fund the budget. It provides a portion of the total funding for the budget; the other major source of funding comes from state aid.
Chatham CSD uses reserve accounts and fund balance to reduce year-to-year increases to the tax levy. Using reserves and fund balance in this manner is part of the District’s long-term fiscal plan to provide for the financial stability of the District.
The District allocated $1,341,600 of fund balance to reduce this year’s tax levy increase. Fund balance is a reserve similar to a savings account; when District expenses are less than expected, or revenues are higher than projected, money remaining at the end of the year is held in the fund balance. The District utilizes fund balance each year as revenue in the budget to minimize spending cuts and hold down tax increases.
District officials will use other reserve accounts as necessary to cover revenue in areas where costs commonly fluctuate, such as retirement health insurance, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, and tax certiorari.
Chatham’s 2022-2031 Financial Reserve Plan is available on our Budget Information page at www.chathamcentralschools.com.
Included in the 2023-24 budget is a small capital project to refinish the ceiling with applied acoustical finishes and provide improved audio-video instructional technology in the Chatham High School auditorium.
The project would not exceed $100,000 and does not increase the 2023-24 budget because money for small annual capital projects like this one was built into the budget in previous years. Completing these upgrades as a capital project provides significant savings to local taxpayers because Chatham CSD is entitled to approximately 50 percent state aid on capital projects, meaning the District would be reimbursed for approximately half of the cost of this project.
If voters do not approve the budget on May 16, the Board of Education has two options; put the same budget or a revised budget up for vote on June 20, or adopt a contingency budget. If the budget is again defeated on June 20, the Board must adopt a contingency budget.
The NYS property tax cap law holds the contingency budget tax levy increase at 0 percent, meaning the District can only levy the same amount of taxes (or less) as it did in 2022, regardless of cost increases. However, all state mandated programs, whether funded by state aid or not, are required to be retained. A contingency budget also prevents spending on new equipment and limits public use of District facilities.
These regulations mean that in a contingent budget, the Board would need to make $838,656 in cuts to the budget proposal. The District would be required to remove any purchases of new equipment from the budget (except where safety is concerned), including replacement buses, and would have to consider program reductions, including cuts to instructional and non-instructional budgets.
Chatham CSD is continually evaluating and updating our programs. Below are some examples of recent initiatives designed to keep our schools moving forward.
Universal Prekindergarten - Starting in 2023, Chatham CSD will expand our existing targeted pre-k program to a universal pre-k program, making all resident children eligible. The District has applied for federal funding through the NYS Education Department that will largely cover the cost of the expanded program.
Literacy - The 2023-24 budget includes the addition of a K-5 literacy coach position to support the full implementation of science-based reading instruction at MED Elementary School, which focuses on how children acquire, develop, and express language. In 8th grade, extra emphasis will be placed on cross-curricular literacy learning in all subject areas.
Increased Academic Support - At CMS, existing resources will be aligned to strengthen academic intervention services for students who are struggling academically.
Speech Services - The 2023-24 budget eliminates a vendor contract for part-time speech pathologist services at MED Elementary School that was unable to meet our needs and replaces it with a full-time speech pathologist on staff. This will allow more consistent services for our students, as well as increase our capacity to provide speech services for our new universal pre-k program through a partnership with Columbia County.
New Electives - The addition of American History Through Film & Music, Music Technology & Production, and Studio in Media Arts classes at CHS will give our students an ever-expanding variety of fresh, engaging, and relevant electives to choose from.
Proposition #2 on the ballot asks voters to reapprove a provision that allows a Chatham High School student to be appointed to the Board of Education. The student representative serves a one-year term as a non-voting member and acts as a liaison between the student body and the Board of Education.
This provision was first approved by Chatham voters in 2009. Education Law requires the District to seek voter approval of this provision every two years. The current voter-approved provision will expire on June 30, 2023.
Information about the 2023 Board of Education Election can be found on our Board of Education Election Page
To be eligible to vote you must be:
• A citizen of the United States 18 years of age or older
• A resident of the Chatham Central School District for a period of 30 days or more directly preceding the date of the vote
• Registered to vote with either the School District or the Columbia County Board of Elections
Not registered to vote? You can register to vote with the School District on the following voter registration days:
Wednesday, April 26, 2023 between the hours of 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. in the Mary E. Dardess Elementary School lobby
Wednesday, May 10, 2023 between the hours of 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. in the Mary E. Dardess Elementary School lobby
Voters may obtain an absentee ballot upon request if they are unable to vote in-person on May 16.
Applications for absentee ballots may be applied for at the Office of the School District Clerk in the MED Elementary School, starting April 21, 2023. Applications must be received by the District Clerk by 4:00 p.m. on May 9 if the ballot is to be mailed to the voter, or prior to 4:00 p.m. on May 15 if the ballot will be picked up in-person. All absentee ballots must be received by the District Clerk not later than 5:00 p.m. on May 16, 2023.
For more information, contact Deborah Pottenburgh, District Clerk, at 518-392-1501 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 2022-23 school year budget totals $33,618,101 and carried a projected tax levy increase of 2.75 percent, which was under the District’s 3.48 percent limit set by New York State’s property tax cap. Spending is up $567,718, a 1.72 percent increase from the 2021-22 budget.
2021-2022 Budget Information
2020-2021 Budget Information
2019-2020 Budget Information
2018-2019 Budget Information
2017-2018 Budget Information
2016-2017 Budget Information
2015-2016 Budget Information
2014-2015 Budget Information
2013-2014 Budget Information
2012-2013 Budget Information
2011-2012 Budget Information
2010-2011 Budget Information
2009-2010 Budget Information
Questions or comments about the budget?
Email them to email@example.com