June 5, 2018

Dear Brewster Community,

On June 19th, we have another opportunity to put forth a budget that responds to concerns about district spending and budget increases, but also helps the District remain competitive and attractive to current and future homeowners and families.

Due to retirements and resignations, we were able to close a significant budget gap and create a budget which we hoped would be approved on May 15th. After the budget failed to pass, we reduced budget allocations in areas away from the classroom which allowed us to restore a number of these positions. Below is the timeline showing when these positions were restored:

  • At the April 24th Board meeting, a 3rd grade position was restored due to a combination of contributions from administrators. The Administrators Association of Brewster, which includes principals, assistant principals, directors and assistant directors, agreed to freeze their salaries for the 2018-19 school year. This is not the first time that they have generously helped the District having agreed to similar pay freezes in 2011-12 and 2013-14. In addition, the four District Office administrators (Superintendent, two Assistant Superintendents and Director) agreed to a 2018-19 salary freeze, a permanent increase in their contributions to health insurance and a reduction in their vacation buy back days. 
  • At the May 22nd Board meeting, we restored the social worker position at C.V. Starr Intermediate School by using funds from additional reductions in non-classroom areas of the budget. We also returned a Teacher on Special Assignment to the Brewster High School Science Department from the Technology and Innovation Department.
  • After the May 22nd Board meeting, additional non-classroom budget reductions were made which were taken from line items that were part of our operational budget. As a result of these reductions, we are able to restore two more teaching positions: one at C.V. Starr Intermediate School and one at H.H. Wells Middle School.
  • The revised budget that will be presented to the community for a vote on June 19 reflects all of the above-described restored positions. 

The Tax Levy is determined by the State’s “Tax Cap” formula. The “Tax Cap” formula resulted in a 2.22% Tax Levy increase and remains the same from the May 15th version of the budget. The adjustments described above simply shift budget allocations from one area to another on the expenditure-side of the budget with no impact on the Tax Levy. In other words, the reductions were used to restore teaching positions. 

We want our budget to promote a school district that is committed to the implementation of our Strategic Coherence Plan, which describes how we are preparing children for life, work and future learning by focusing on the integration of 21st century academic and social-emotional skills (critical thinking, collaboration/communication, adaptability, perseverance and civic responsibility) into curriculum, instruction, assessment, the learning environment and professional learning. These concepts may sound new to those of us who graduated from high school 10, 15 or 20+ years ago, but schools have had to change the way they educate children to keep pace with the expectations of college, work and the military. Advances in automation and artificial intelligence will permeate areas of work and our personal lives in the future in ways that we cannot imagine right now. At a recent STEM presentation, it was reported that today’s students will have between 10-14 jobs by the time that they reach the age of 38. Having competence in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields is no longer “good to have” but is essential to the future success of our students. It is also predicted that STEM skills will be required for our students who may pursue careers as software developers, market research analysts, nurses, veterinarians, medical technicians, medical assistants, computer systems analysts, ergonomics engineers, information security analysts, multimedia virtual reality artists and data managers, just to name a few.  

Our budget helps us to keep pace with the rapidly changing world, as well as attract future homeowners and families to our wonderful school district. We want to prepare all of our students to succeed in their chosen path in life, whether it be college, work or the military.  Such success depends upon our graduates being able to adapt quickly to change, learn new information, content and technologies to solve problems, innovate and create, and engage in ongoing learning to keep pace with the expectations of their employers. 

We hope that the aforementioned goals expressed for students are consistent with your goals and beliefs. We want all of our students to fulfill their dreams and aspirations for the future. Most importantly, we want their school experience to give them all of the tools that they need for happiness and success in an ever-changing global society. 

Warmly,

Valerie Henning-Piedmonte, Ed.D., Superintendent of Schools

Victor Karlsson, CPA, Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations