Board of Education adopts 2018-19 school budget

The Board of Education has adopted a $55.98 million budget for the 2018-19 school year that closes a $1.3 million budget gap and adds a high school mental health program.

The proposal would raise the tax levy by 3.36 percent, slightly less than the state-provided tax levy cap of 3.46 percent. The budget would increase taxes on a home assessed at $160,000 by $119.13 per year (about $9.93 per month) before savings from the state’s STAR program. That works out to 74 cents per $1,000 assessed value.

“I can tell you that this is a good budget that I think is solid and is responsible to our students, staff and taxpayers,” Superintendent Susan Swartz told the board on Monday evening. “But it is not everything that I wanted and not everything that you wanted.”

She reviewed the several ways that the administration found to fill the $1.3 million spending gap from Feb. 12. Read her presentation here.

The community vote on the 2018-19 budget will be held from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, May 15. The community will also consider a bus purchase proposal, $14 million capital project and elect two members to the Board of Education on that day.

The budget includes a contract with the Saratoga Center for the Family. The center will provide a full-time certified individual placed at the high school during the week to deal with mental health issues. Other school districts, such as Shenendehowa and South Glens Falls, use the agency in their high schools.

A growing number of students at Scotia-Glenville and other areas are suffering from high anxiety, stress and other debilitating issues that take a toll on their school performance. This individual would work with the school psychologist, social worker, teachers and parents to deliver high level mental health services and referrals for students.

The budget does make some reductions:

  • 2.0 teaching assistant positions (one person is retiring): $72,374 savings
  • 2.0 aide positions: $37,995 savings

There were also lower costs for health and dental insurance ($158,000 savings), BOCES ($55,283 savings) and retirement “breakage” (difference in cost between retirees and new hires – $323,062 savings) that helped close the gap.

In addition, more money was applied from the district’s fund balance and Scotia-Glenville received an extra $87,946 after the passage of the state budget beyond the amount set by the governor in January; the total increase in Foundation Aid for S-G was 1.9 percent or $250,660.

Swartz said she does not like eliminating positions but she attempted to preserve educational programs for students.

She also said the district is still working with the Glenville and Scotia police, as well as other agencies, to provide security coverage at district schools. She is hopeful that BOCES will develop a shared service to provide security coverage, though she also said both local police agencies are very responsive and are often near the schools.

The $56.6 million “roll over” budget that Swartz presented to the Board of Education on Feb. 12 included all programs and services now provided to students. Spending would have increased by 5.99 percent or $3.2 million in 2018-19 over the current school year budget of $53.4 million.

The resulting gap between projected costs and revenue was $1.3 million in 2018-19.