The Board of Education tonight agreed that the 2012-13 budget proposal would keep the tax levy increase at the 2.93 percent maximum increase allowed by the state's new Property Tax Levy Cap.
If town assessments and state equalization rates remain steady, a 2.93 percent tax levy increase may mean a $95 annual increase (less than $8 per month) for the typical homeowner with a $160,000 assessment next school year. Final tax rates are not set by the Board of Education until August.
As the tax levy cap law is written, that means that a 50 percent majority must approve the budget on Tuesday, May 15, to pass the budget. Had the board wanted to exceed the state's cap, that would have required a 60 percent supermajority approval - something accomplished just three times in the past 10 years at Scotia-Glenville.
Several grade 7 students spoke in favor of restoring their guidance counselor, who is among the proposed reductions. Sacandaga parents also expressed concerns about blending four sections of grade 2 this year into three sections of grade 3, creating class sizes of 26-27 in grade 3 next year.
Here is the Powerpoint presentation she made this evening [MORE] PDF
The state's levy cap forced the administration and board to cut the proposed budget by $2.3 million - 40.3 positions including a middle school guidance counselor, two elementary librarians, two administrators and a host of other positions ranging from teachers and teaching assistants to student aides and cleaners.
Parent Nicole Broadhead said she understood the squeeze being put on school districts but also said that, in the private sector, unions and employees would step forward and agree to no pay raises or givebacks in order to save their colleague's jobs. She said benefits account for about 40 percent of total employee costs, much higher than the typical 25 percent benefit costs per employee in the private sector.
"Now, your hands are tied and the only choice is to cut programs," she said. "The long-term problems facing schools are unsustainable" without concessions from the school district's eight labor unions.
Restoring some programs and positions?
Board of Education President Pamela Carbone said some of the unions may step forward and offer concessions in the coming days. In addition, state aid may be slightly increased in the final state budget expected to be finalized this week.
Board members agreed unanimously to stay at or below the state's tax levy cap. However, if money were restored, they agreed that the middle school guidance counselor and one elementary librarian should be restored, if the money were available. Restoring both would cost around $75,000 for each position.
They also mentioned other possible restorations, such as a reading teacher, social worker, 1-2-3 Success, Young Scholars, grade 6 foreign language teacher, intramurals and the float nurse.
When asked by Carbone to prioritize, the board split 3-3 (Board member John Yagielski was not at the meeting) as to their top priority for restoration, if money were available - either the guidance counselor or elementary librarian topped everyone's list.
The board will consider a resolution on
Monday, April 2, to adopt a 2012-13 budget totaling $47.6 million.
The formal public hearing will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May
2 at the middle school cafeteria.
Voting will be held from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, May 15 in the old gymnasium at the high school.
2.93 percent tax levy increase may cost less than $95 per year maximum for typical taxpayers
The state’s Property Tax Levy Cap confuses many people because a tax levy increase is not the same as a tax rate increase. Tax rates, set by the Board of Education in August after all budget information is known, are used to compute school tax bills in September.
The 2012-13 school tax rate for residents of Scotia/Glenville (which accounts for 99.9 percent of the total tax base) was $20.39 per $1,0000 of a property’s assessed value. For the typical home in Scotia/Glenville with a $160,000 assessment, the tax bill BEFORE DEDUCTIONS SUCH AS THE STAR PROGRAM was $3,262. After the STAR deduction, the total bill for the same homeowner was $2,722 for the Basic STAR program and $2,219 for older homeowners with the Enhanced STAR program.
Because town tax assessment information is not known for sure, we will assume no growth in the tax base and that a 2.93 percent tax levy increase would create a tax rate increase of 2.93 percent. Tax rates are set in August by the Board of Education.
In terms of dollars and cents, for that same homeowner with a $160,000 assessment on his or her home, the total tax bill would rise by $94.40 or $7.87 per month.
Board member Andrew Crapo discussed the need to establish an educational foundation to help in supporting programs at Scotia-Glenville, both in terms of donations as well as the ability to donate one's time and talent to help students.
He mentioned that some foundations, which are separate from the school district and can not be founded by the district, offer innovation grants to teachers. The grants would be used to pay for ideas and programs by specific teachers that would benefit children.
In other places, foundations are able to fund items such as field trips or honors programs.
He said about 20 community members could be needed to begin such a foundation. Other area schools, such as Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Ballston Spa, South Glens Falls and Broadalbin-Perth already have foundations operating in their communities.
"It really is pretty unlimited in terms of what they could do for our students and for our schools," he said. "It's really up to them."
Board members supported the idea and agreed to sponsor a speaker to discuss the options with the community.
"We need to find out how much interest there would be in a foundation," said Carbone. "If nobody steps forward, then it would be dead..but we'll never know unless we reach out and ask people."
No date has been set for the meeting.
Contact your legislators
The state's Property Tax Levy Cap is in place until 2016 without any further legislative changes. With four more years of similar-sized spending cuts on the horizon, Scotia-Glenville will not be the school district is is today. When the cap was put in place last June, the governor and legislature said they would also study the mandates crushing schools today and offer some types of relief.
So far, no substantial mandate relief has been offered.
Please complete contact forms for Assemblyman James Tedisco, Senator Hugh Farley and Governor Andrew Cuomo. Let them know what another three or four years of deep spending cuts will mean to Scotia-Glenville's educational program as well as other schools around the state.