School Budgets in Putnam to be Voted on by Absentee Ballot

Due to an executive order from Governor Andrew Cuomo triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, all school budget and Board of Elections votes in Putnam County will be held by absentee ballot only. Each district will mail a ballot to every qualified voter in their jurisdiction. The ballots must be returned to the district clerk’s office by mail or in person by Tuesday, June 9 at 5 p.m.

Although no final decision has been made, it appears because of time constraints if any budget is voted down school districts will be forced to adopt a contingency budget for the 2020-21 school year, which would result in significant reductions.

The following is a summary of the school budgets being proposed in five local districts:

Carmel

The $130,541,386 budget in the Carmel School District increases spending by 2.26% from this year’s budget. The projected tax levy increase is 2.6%, which means the average home assessed at $350,000 will see a tax hike of $20 per month.

District officials are allocating $2.2 million from fund balance, slightly less than this year. The budget reduces eight elementary teachers due to shrinking enrollment and class sizes, building and maintenance projects and elective offerings in the high school, and freezes the salary of the superintendent of schools.

If the budget is rejected, $2.5 million would have to be cut.

Mahopac

The $125,300,000 budget in the Mahopac School District includes a tax increase of 1.66%, which would increase taxes $3 a month for every $100,000 of assessed value of homes.

District officials utilized $3 million from fund balance. If the budget is defeated, $1.4 million would need to be slashed, resulting in possible staff layoffs, class size increases and cuts to athletics, clubs and other extracurricular activities.

Brewster

The $103,981,693 budget in Brewster includes a tax levy of 1.48%. A $730,000 bus proposition is also on the ballot.

Funding is set aside to increase staffing at the K-8 levels and reduce class sizes. Three positions to be added are a Social Studies teacher at H.H. Wells Middle School, a special education teacher at JFK Elementary School and a bilingual/TESOL teacher at CV Starr Intermediate School.

If the spending plan is given a thumbs’ down, $1.145 million would need to be cut.

Putnam Valley

The $51,907,863 budget in the Putnam Valley School District increases spending by only .44%. Proposed tax levy increases are 1.19 for residents of Putnam Valley, 2.24% for residents of Cortlandt and 1.23% for residents of Carmel.

District officials cut $1.2 million throughout the budget due to state aid losses. If the spending plan was defeated, an additional $531,000 would need to be cut, impacting staffing, educational programs, athletics and extracurricular activities.

Haldane

The $25,266,610 budget in the Haldane School District includes a 3.3% tax increase, resulting in an increase of $280 for homes with a market value of $500,000.

No cuts in student programming are slated. A $175,000 bus proposition is also on the ballot.

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