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GJSD discusses prelimary budget

JOHNSTOWN — The Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education Thursday night reviewed some preliminary 2021-22 district budget figures, including capital and administrative expenditures expected to increase by 2-4 percent.

Superintendent William Crankshaw and Assistant Superintendent Ruthie Cook took the board through some proposed figures.

“We’re not looking for any fancy increases,” Crankshaw told the board.

He said administrative costs for the 2021-22 school year would be $3,219,045 — up by about 4.4 percent from the current school year. He said capital expenditures would stand at $8,342,601 for a 1.6 percent hike.

“This is generally 20 percent of the budget,” he said of capital, which includes operation of buildings and maintenance.

The superintendent noted that normally the district receives 90 percent building aid for capital expenses. For the 2021-22 school year, he said the district estimates it may need $20,000 for incidental costs; $70,000 for the Johnstown Junior-Senior High School pool; and another $10,000 for interior improvements.

Broken down, Crankshaw said proposed capital expenses for the 2021-22 school year would include $2,905,238 for operation of the plant; and $613,165 for maintenance.

Crankshaw said preliminary budget figures show an increase of $1,158,741 in salaries, salary benefits and health insurance for the 2021-22 school year.

“We’re looking at over a million dollars in increases,” he noted.

But Crankshaw cautioned the board that it doesn’t have hard numbers from the state yet, which can be used for further calculations. He said there may be no increase in state formula aid.

“It’s way too early to put a tax levy increase amount there,” he said.

Projections for fund balance availability was also hazy. The total restricted and unrestricted fund balance for the previous school year was about $12.4 million.

“We will also gain interest by the end of the year,” Crankshaw said.

Crankshaw said that the Johnstown school district — serving over 1,600 students — has “changed so much much in a few years.” The district doesn’t have figures for revenue for state aid, which was $23.8 million for 2019-20; and $24.1 million for 2020-21.

Cook said Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal talked of 20 percent cuts, but the Johnstown cut may end up being at least 5 percent. The district is projecting “flat” state aid for the next school year, but there could be decreases in subsequent years.

Revenues for the district totalled $37,870,477 in 2019-20; and $38,975,289 for 2020-21.

Crankshaw said the board will next month receive preliminary budget proposals for the “program component” of the budget. He said that represents about 70 percent of the budget. By April, the board has to adopt a proposed budget to put before district voters in May.

“Most of the [new] information about our budget is just a couple days old,” Crankshaw said.

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