Board of Education adopts 2022-23 budget; keeps tax levy below the state cap

The Board of Education on Monday night unanimously adopted a proposed 2022-23 school budget of $60.275 million, which includes a tax levy increase of 1.61%, slightly less than the state tax levy limit.

The proposed budget is $1.15 million more than the 2021-22 budget, representing a year-to-year spending increase of 1.9%.

Over the past two weeks, the administration has worked to reduce the $1.08 million shortfall in the proposed carry-forward budget presented on February 14 through staff reductions (no teacher layoffs; two teaching assistant layoffs), no program reductions and other spending cuts.

“This has been a difficult process because my goal is always to have the least impact on our programs, and that’s getting harder every year,” said Superintendent Susan Swartz. “I am happy that we were able to bridge the gap by beginning to ‘right size’ our enrollment to our staffing levels.”

Here is her presentation to the Board of Education.

Scotia-Glenville’s state tax levy cap allows taxes to increase by 1.62% in the 2022-23 school year. The budget as presented originally on February 14 far exceeded that cap.

Voting on the community budget, a $385,000 bus purchase proposal (three 72-passenger buses) and two Board of Education seats will be held from 7 a.m to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, May 17 in the B-wing gymnasium at the high school.

Throughout the budget presentations in February and March, Swartz has discussed how enrollment has declined at the elementary (down 229 students) and secondary levels (down 208 students) since 2012. She has said that the district can not continue to have the same number of staff members with fewer students sitting in classrooms. She said she will continue to examine the enrollments and attempt to “right size” staffing by reducing staffing to match declining enrollment.

Where were the reductions made?

So where did this reductions come from? Where possible, retiring or resigning staff members will not be replaced. Here is a list of positions and costs to be reduced from both the March 21 and March 28 Board of Education meetings:

  • 1.0 full-time equivalent position (FTE) in kindergarten at Sacandaga Elementary, going from three kindergarten sections to two sections ($66,984 reduction)
  • 1.0 FTE position in grade 1 at Sacandaga Elementary, going from
    three sections in grade 1 to two sections at grade 2 ($66,984 reduction)
  • 1.0 FTE position in grade 2 at Glen-Worden Elementary, going from two sections in grade 2  to one section at grade 3  ($71,949 reduction)
  • 4.0 FTE Teaching Assistant position reductions district wide ($184,125 reduction)

Other budgetary reductions:

  • Tech Valley High School tuition – one less student next year ($16,239 reduction)
  • 7.0 FTE Cares Act II positions costs shift entirely to grant dollars ($386,348 reduction)
  • Special Education Out-of-District tuition by reducing the number of positions by one. The district puts aside extra money in anticipation of new special education students that may arrive at S-G ($50,000 reduction)
  • Reduce 2.5 FTE teacher aide positions/benefits – aides are annual appointments and they must reapply for their position each year  ($60,825 reduction)
  • Buildings & Grounds – reduce equipment budget ($50,000 reduction)
  • Summer professional development – fewer days for teacher PD ($20,000 reduction)
  • Reduction of substitute budget – negligible impact ($10,000 reduction)
  • Reduction of equipment and contractual/private school tuition for special education students ($25,000 reduction)
  • Reduction in health insurance ($14,000 reduction)

Total reductions are $1,088,410, slightly more than the $1,085,787 budget shortfall. The gap of $233,160 left after the reductions on March 21 was filled by Monday night’s meeting.

Additional requests

At the March 21 meeting, Swartz also outlined $43,562 in additional budget requests from administrators that will either be paid from this year’s budget or paid through federal grants:

  • Additional speakers for the MS Cafeteria ($750 cost)
  • Six IP Cameras for MS ($8,500 cost)
  • .4 FTE CPSE/CSE Chairperson increased to to 1.0 FTE ($29,469 cost)
  • Create Stipend for a Reading Department Chairperson ($3,300 cost)
  • Five Summer Days at per diem teacher rate for Cross Training ($1,543 cost)