Staff’s work honored at school board meeting; no one speaks during budget public hearing


Pelham Memorial High School

The Pelham Board of Education discussed Teacher Appreciation Week at Wednesday’s meeting and held a public hearing on the proposed 2021-2022 school district budget, which drew no speakers.

With Teacher Appreciation Week this week, both Board President Jessica DeDomenico and Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Champ opened the meeting by expressing their gratitude for all that the teachers, staff and administrators do and endure, especially during the course of the past year of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Through each new twist and turn, they have demonstrated their dedication to our students,” said DeDomenico.

“I want to express my sincere appreciation for all that they do,” said Champ. “There’s not enough thanks to go around.” 

The beginning of last week marked the start of the new full-time in-person plan for Pelham Memorial High School, with seniors coming back at 100% capacity and the freshman through junior classes at about 70% capacity daily. Champ said the new plan is working well and it helps give an accurate demonstration at what the new school year might look like, if the district moves to bring all grades in the high school back at 100%.

Questions came up about doing away with the plexiglass dividers that high school students are required to carry from class to class. However, Champ said 20% of teachers stated in a survey they would be “uncomfortable” with getting rid of the dividers.

“We have asked a lot of our teachers this year, so before making more changes we want to make sure that it is a smart change that everyone feels comfortable with,” said Champ.

Champ described the issues the district’s back-to-school task force is facing concerning the 2021-2022 school year. The majority of these have to do with spacing, in particular at the high school. With settings such as the cafeterias, it is hard to determine exactly how many students they would be able to fit, while still maintaining social-distancing protocols. The task force is “planning for the worst, hoping for the best,” she said.

No residents came forward to speak during the state-mandated public hearing on the proposed $80.3 million school district budget for 2021-2022. Spending rises 4.67% in the budget, while the tax levy increases 2.47%, which is below the state cap. The public will vote on the budget on May 18, along with five candidates for two school board seats

Jim Hricay, the assistant superintendent for business, said the main components of the tax increase are general operations, which represent 1.7 percentage point of the rise, and the remainder for the capital budget.

The meeting is accessible at by clicking Meetings and Coffees located in the Board of Education tab.