The 2019-20 tax-cap compliant Pelham School Budget and site preparation plans for the new Hutchinson School were topics of a briefing given by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Cheryl Champ to members of the Rotary Club of the Pelhams on Wednesday, May 1.

Voters will be asked to approve the budget at a School District Election on Tuesday, May 21. Three open seats on the Board of Education also will be filled in the election.

The proposed budget totals $74,930,000 in appropriations and includes a tax levy increase of 3.17%, the maximum allowed by the state. The budget to budget increase is 1.74%. Budget details are available on the district website at www.pelhamschools.org

In discussing site preparation plans for the new Hutchinson School, Dr. Champ said that necessary rock removal is scheduled this summer and should be completed before school resumes. She said the "worst of preparation work" on the site will be completed before NY State work scheduled to begin in the spring next year on the Lincoln Avenue bridge over the Hutchinson River Parkway.

She said work on new PMHS classrooms as well as Glover Field work is scheduled for this summer. Prospect Hill School work, also approved in the bond, however, is still in the design phase, she said, because plans have been revised with the possibility of including an additional classroom.

Asked if anything was left out of the new budget because of the tax cap constraints, Dr. Champ said "No," but added that there had to b some staff assignment realignments in cases where staff are shared. If she had "all the money in the world," she said she would add more interventionist staff to support students, more electives in the high school and maybe air conditioning, which would require a bond issue.

In answer to a question as to how the school district will absorb the additional students, whatever the numbers, from new apartment developments in downtown Pelham, she said that Colonial School can absorb some additional students as can Hutchinson School. She added that if Colonial gets to capacity, the Board could consider rezoning newcomers and assign new elementary students to another school. She said the current Hutchinson School has 18 classrooms and the new Hutchinson School will have 19 that are larger as well as additional spaces that could be converted to classrooms.

Construction of the new Hutchinson School is scheduled to begin in the winter of 2019. During construction, student recess will be held at Julianne's Playground.

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