Chester school budget and BOE vote offers options on money, tech and people

On May 17, 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m, Chester residents can go to the polls at the Chester Academy music room to vote on the school budget, capital project and school board members

| 03 May 2022 | 06:59

    Registered voters can vote in person or request an absentee ballot. There will also be a District Art Show and STEM Presentation for May 17, the day of the vote.


    · Proposed budget is more than $100,000 under the tax cap.

    · No new taxes, after state aid reimbursement, for capital project HVAC at Chester Elementary School and construction of a “Makerspace” STEM lab suite for Chester Academy.

    · Four candidates are applying for two board seats.

    The proposed 2022-23 budget of $32,981,536 stays within the NYS Cap on tax levies. The resulting tax rate is estimated to increase by 1.3%

    For the 2022-23 budget year the Maximum Allowable Tax Levy (MATL) is: $19,437,660, an increased tax levy of $662,698 or 3.53%.

    Proposed Budget

    Proposition 1

    “Shall the Board of Education of the Chester Union Free School District, Orange County, New York, be authorized to expend the sum of $32,981,536 which will be required for the school district purposes for the year July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023 (The Budget) and to levy the necessary tax therefore?”

    Capital Project Proposition

    Proposition 2

    “Shall the proposition set forth in the Notice of Annual District Meeting and Budget Vote authorizing a School District Improvement Program consisting of HVAC upgrades at Chester Elementary School and creation of a STEM Lab at Chester Academy, at a total maximum cost of $2,933,000 with $1,008,257 Capital Reserve Fund used therefore and providing that the remaining sum of $1,924,743 shall be raised by the levy of a tax to be collected annually, with District obligations to be issued in anticipation thereof be approved?”

    “No New Taxes”: This Capital Project is 100% eligible for NYS Building Aid. Chester’s Building Aid rate is 65.6%. The amount above (“$1,924,743 shall be raised by tax levy”) will be returned to the District from NYS after the completion of the project ($2,933,000 x .656 = $1,924,048).

    Chester Superintendent Denis Petrilak noted that the Covid pandemic increased awareness of the need for improved air filtration for students’ health. Parts are difficult to get for the original 1960s HVAC system which, during Covid, required installing MERV 13-rated filters, which the system is not equipped to handle, resulting in a drain on the system.

    Petrilak went on to describe the Makerspace as an innovative game changer for the district’s STEM program, so important to educating students for critical thinking and problem solving in an increasingly complex and technology-driven world and job market. The Makerspace would include a new “learning stair” but would also reconfigure other areas of the library, which, combined with the connected 2nd floor STEM lab, will result in a suite that includes a large meeting space with movable furniture, small “breakout rooms” for small group work, and two or three STEM lab spaces with 3D printers and a laser cutter.

    Board Of Education Election (Four candidates for two seats):

    Keith Brideweser (incumbent)

    Kimberly DiCurcio

    Caroline Negersmith

    Joseph Delaney