This week, registered voters will be receiving a blue postcard in the mail detailing the voting process for the school budget and school board election. If you are qualified to vote but are not registered, you must register by May 26, 2020, to vote in this election. Please see the letter below from the Board of Education regarding the budget and vote.
May 21, 2020
Dear Members of the Edgemont Community,
The Board of Education is submitting to the voters a $63,677,081 budget for the 2020-2021 school year. The anticipated tax-rate increase is 2.99% with a projected budget-to-budget increase of 3.75%. The proposed budget was first developed, and then revised due to pandemic-related State aid cuts and out of concern for the current financial stress for all taxpayers. Based on how the State’s tax cap is calculated, this budget is now $546,000 below the 2% tax cap.*
Many have asked, why have a tax rate increase at all in such an economically challenging time? Nearly 78% of this budget is salary and benefits for personnel - faculty, teaching aides, custodians, administrators and support staff. They work as a team to create Edgemont’s excellent education. The vast majority of the overall increase comes from compensation, special education and transportation. There are essentially no increases in the areas in which the Board has discretion. If all of the educationally necessary and legally mandatory budget lines are excluded (salaries, benefits, special education, support services, transportation, legal, audit, insurance, debt service) the increase over last year’s budget amounts to $6,400 (+0.01%). The Board of Education believes the adopted budget preserves the core values that distinguish an Edgemont education in a fiscally responsible manner. If we were to hold the tax rate flat, we would effectively be instituting an austerity budget, which would require cuts that would dramatically devalue the education our students receive.
What are the main drivers of this budget? We continue to anticipate increases in overall enrollment. As mandated by NYS, we must expand program requirements in science, technology, arts and math, which teach problem solving in real-world contexts. The budget maintains existing academic, athletic, and co-curricular programs. Health and safety priorities are included in the facilities plan. The pandemic is changing the way we educate our students, both physically and academically. The state has not yet issued its requirements for the coming year but it is certain to impact our classrooms and all programming. Professional development for our educators to adapt to these changes is essential.
The community must vote to approve a budget by June 30th. Otherwise, by law, a contingency (austerity) budget goes into effect. That means the property taxes collected for 2020-21 can be no more than the property taxes collected for the current school year. That would require the schools to cut another $1.2 million from this already lean budget, leading to cuts in personnel (increasing class size), programs and athletics.
The 2020-2021 budget presentation can be found on the district’s website (www.edgemont.org). For questions about the budget, please contact Susan Shirken, Assistant Superintendent, at (914) 472-7767 or email@example.com, Victoria Kniewel, Superintendent, at (914) 472-7768 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or the Board of Education at email@example.com.
The budget vote and the election of candidates for the Board of Education will take place by absentee ballot, to be mailed to the registered voter’s address on or about May 26, 2020. To be valid, the district must RECEIVE the ballot by 5 p.m. on June 9, 2020.
Edgemont Board of Education
Alec Clarke, President
Judy Seiff, Vice President
*The 2% tax cap calculation excludes debt service and capital expenses and is factored by a State calculated tax-base growth rate. In addition, changes to Edgemont’s total property assessments also affect the actual tax rate.