Pelham NY Board of Ed Meeting Recap March 6, 2018

in school •  3 months ago

IF A, THEN B

Pelham, New York Superintendent Cheryl Champ announced that the Board of Ed is considering a referendum strategy involving two (2) propositions, linked to each other, both on the same ballot, in May 2018.


Photo: Board of Ed President Madeline Smith

Proposition A: New Hutch ($43 million), plus middle school and high school renovation, roof and parapet repair on annex, HS rooftop HVAC, Prospect Hill ADA compliance. (total cost unclear)

Proposition B: Field improvements (tennis courts, baseball fields) $7.5 million

Prop A could pass alone; however “B” passes if and only if A also passes.

BOARD ANALYSIS

This is why people hate school boards. They’re making a game out of public financing. Either the projects are necessary, or they’re not. The board is leveraging a patriarchal/matriarchal strategy, saying in essence, “If you want dessert (the playing fields), you must first finish your meal (new Hutch, other infrastructure projects).” Yuck.

This two-prop strategy suggests the board has concern that the overall proposal is wobbling in the court of public opinion. Rather than go out with a single right-sized proposition with a robust argument for its underlying purpose, the Board is hedging. Their betting that Prop B, for the playing fields, will drag in a few more votes that might otherwise ignore the whole matter in a standalone proposition with a higher price tag.

The Board takes its role very seriously, but they have a mean blind spot on the impact of the SALT deduction on our cost of living. There is a blissful ignorance of the financial storm about to strike. No discussion about assessed valuation. If Pelham supports this borrowing, I suggest you get noise cancelling headphones. Hutch will involve drilling, blasting and up to 5 months of daily truck rolls to remove the rock, according to one board member’s estimate.

No discussion of how to fund the projects except to borrow, and assess taxes. There was some chatter around the impact of State Building Aid, which is funded through income tax.

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