Superintendent proposes nearly $465,000 in reductions; no impact on current programs

Superintendent Susan Swartz recommended nearly $465,000 in budget reductions that involved shuffling administrators and combining grade 1 sections at Glendaal Elementary next year with no changes to the current academic program or layoffs.

The Board of Education accepted her recommendations. The next Board of Education meeting was scheduled for 7 p.m. on March 23 at the Middle School.

Swartz presented this proposal last night.

“None of these make me happy,” Swartz said as she unveiled the reductions. “I don’t bring you these lightly. I’m trying to keep to the idea that we must all share the pain, in a way that does not directly impact children.”

She has filled bigger budget shortfalls in the past, but this year was different. “After years and years of nibbling at the edges, I don’t have any edges to trim any more.”

Voting on the budget will be held from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, May 19 in the B-wing gym at the high school. The May 19 vote will also include a bus purchase proposal totaling $465,000 to purchase six buses – 2 35-passenger buses, 1 30-passenger vehicle, 1 24-passenger wheel chair bus, 1 72-passenger bus and 1 7-passenger suburban.

The school district, using an eight-step state process, has determined that the maximum tax levy cap for S-G next year is 2.67%. That means that the tax levy – the total amount of taxes collected in the community – can not increase by more than 2.67%. Tax rates are used to calculate individual tax bills; those won’t be estimated until later in the budgeting process. Tax rates are final this summer after all assessment challenges have been determined.

Closing the gap in 2020-21

Swartz’s proposals include these to close an estimated $514,000 budget gap:

$73,919 – Reduction of .4 FTE in foreign language. This position, grade 8 German, was left in the original carry over budget presented on Feb. 24. S-G will not offer German in grade 8 next year.
$0 – Administrative reassignments. The current CSE chairperson is retiring and she will be replaced by a current administrator in a new administrative position, Instructional Administrator for Special Education. As well, the current Administrator for Annual Performance Reviews will be reassigned to a school administrative position. Both moves will be at no additional costs.
○ $107,273 – 1.0 FTE Retirement/reallocation – savings from retirement of the the current CSE chairperson.
$152,249 – $16,281 retirement savings; TRS rate reduction of $100,000 and BOCES savings of $35,968
$93,012 – 1.0 FTE Teacher Reassignment. The current Lead Teacher for Instructional Technology will be reassigned to another retirement vacancy.
$0 – Fill 5th grade opening at Sac. with existing staff. A grade 1 position at Glendaal will be eliminated because of two current small kindergarten sections – 12 and 13 students each. The resulting grade 1 section will have 25 students and a full-time Teaching Assistant. That position will be used to fill a grade 5 position at Sacandaga, which will be needed because of higher enrollment.
$38,277 – Reduce substitute budget
Total: $464,730

That still leaves a shortfall of $49,270, which Swartz said will be partially filled by savings from a late retirement. She’ll be able to squeeze out the difference, she added.

“This is much better than eliminating programs,” said board member Kim Talbot. “We’re utilizing what we can to fill the gap.”

Board member Pam Carbone, saying the proposal does the job “and without an layoffs.”

“It’s not pretty but it works,” said board member David Massaro.

Dan Feinberg, board vice president, said he had a concern about eliminating the Lead Teacher for Instructional Technology. “What are we losing here?” he asked.

Swartz and Assistant Superintendent Karen Swain said it will be difficult but they are confident that others can fill the gap lost by that job transfer.

Combing grade 1 sections at Glendaal

As for the reduction at Glendal, Swartz noted that the grade 1 section will be larger than the current sections, but will also have a full time Teaching Assistant assigned.  Several years ago, again facing declining enrollment in grade 5 at Lincoln, one section was eliminated, leaving a single section for one year. She said the section may come back the following year at Glendaal.

“But we have to look at the bigger issue – enrollment at the northern schools (Glendaal and Glen-Worden) are decreasing while increasing at the village schools (Lincoln and Sacandaga),” she said.

She said the elementary boundaries will need to be adjusted during the 2020-21 school year. In September 2007, the elementary zones were last tweaked, sending more students from Glendaal and Glen-Worden to Lincoln and Sacandaga. “That has worked, maybe too well,” she said. She said she’d consider undoing some of those changes made in 2007.