Spending plan exceeds the state’s maximum for S-G of 0.13%; will require 60 percent approval by the community
The Board of Education, on March 29, adopted a $59.127 million budget or “spending cap” for the 2021-22 school year, a spending increase of 1.66% from the current school year.
The tax levy would increase by 2.02% under this plan. That is above the state’s maximum tax levy increase for Scotia-Glenville, which was 0.13%. This budget will require at least a 60% approval during voting on
Any additional state aid would reduce the tax levy increase; federal stimulus does not factor into this budget
This budget was built on the state aid estimates from Gov. Cuomo in
January, All board members agreed that any additional state aid above the amount estimated by the governor in January will be used to reduce the tax levy.
Superintendent Susan Swartz told Board of Education members that, if the school district gets additional state aid, which is expected, that there were three options: save the money, spend the money or use it to reduce taxes. She advised against spending the money.
“I like the idea of getting below the 2% if we can,” said Board of Education president David Bucciferro. “It’s a tough year for a lot of people.”
Board member Pamela Carbone said she also favored using any additional state aid to reduce the tax levy, “unless we get a whole lot back. Then I’d like to save it.”
The federal stimulus aid, which was approved by Congress last month and is designed to help schools avoid fiscal “cliffs” over the next few years, has to be spent by June 2024 and does not figure into this year’s school budget.
Business Administrator Andrew Giaquinto said he was hopeful that S-G would be allowed to save a large share of the stimulus money. He said there is a proposal to increase the amount of money school districts are allowed to save – from the current 4% to 8% – specifically so the stimulus money can be used as needed until 2024.
Swartz, in what she called Tier 1 reductions, proposed on March 15 not replacing two retiring teachers – at kindergarten and grade 2 at Glendaal – to create a $200,000 reduction in the original proposed 2021-22 budget. She explained that Glendaal is slated to have 28 incoming kindergarten students this fall. Glen- Worden will have two classes of 16 students each. By moving eight of the kindergarten students (who do not have siblings at Glendaal) from Glendaal to Glen-Worden, that would create 20 students in all three kindergarten classes in the fall.
Right now, at Glendaal, there is one grade 1 class section. That one grade 1 class will move up next year to one grade 2 class. That is the second reduction: a retiring grade 2 teacher at Glendaal would not be replaced.
“By not replacing those two teachers, that would create a $200,000 savings and leave a tax levy increase of 2.02%,” said Swartz. “That will be a pretty painless way of creating a large savings.”
She returned on March 22 with an additional $100,000 in Tier 2 reductions. However, board members rejected those reductions, saying they preferred to stay at the $200,000 Tier 1 reduction level.
The community will consider the 2021-22 budget during in-person voting from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, May 18 or through absentee ballot.
Board members, in discussing the proposed tax increase of 2.02%, argued that most tax increases over the past decade have been in the 2% range, though they did acknowledge that times are more difficult now because of COVID-19. On March 22, Swartz showed that the last three budget proposals included tax levy increases of more than 2.6% per year.
Board members had made clear that they did not want to touch funding in these areas: mental health services, professional development for social emotional learning and return to school, reading intervention, guidance, keep all academic programming, Fine Arts, Advanced Placement and College in the HS and academic support services.
Small state-allowed tax levy increase
The state’s mandated tax levy cap means that the 8-step state formula will allow S-G to increase spending by 0.13% or $40,310 in the 2021-22 school
Board members have said that they had no choice but to propose exceeding the state’s cap.
The community decides on May 18
On May 18 (unless the date is changed as happened last year), the S-G community will consider these proposals through in-person or absentee balloting
- 2021-22 school budget;
- $493,000 bus purchase proposal for four, 72-passenger buses;
- $12.8 million capital project for roofs, furnaces, lead water line remediation and public address systems at all six schools; and
- Select two Board of Education members. The terms of current Board of Education members David Massaro and Hal Talbot expire this year.