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A guide to area school budgets up for vote

The following are the local school districts and what their budgets entail. Voters will go to the polls on Tuesday to vote for against their district’s budget:

Amsterdam

The Greater Amsterdam Board of Education on April 21 adopted a $79,310,619 proposed budget for the 2021-22 school year which includes no increase in the district tax levy while maintaining the same level of educational programming.

A public vote on the budget will be held from noon to 9 p.m. at various polling sites throughout the city. For a list of polling places contact the District Clerk at lschell@gasd.org

The proposed spending plan represents an increase of 4.47 percent or $3,391,701 over the current year budget. The budget, however, calls for no tax levy increase in 2021-22.

The district was able to hold the line on the tax levy as a result of a $3.6 million increase in foundation aid awarded by the state Legislature, and a promise to fully fund foundation aid for all school districts within the next three years. The district will receive an overall increase in state aid of more than 9 percent next school year.

Because the zero percent increase is well below the district’s state tax cap limit of 2.64 percent, the budget will need only a simple majority of votes to pass. GASD homeowners who qualify will also be eligible to earn a Property Tax Relief Credit this year because the budget is below the tax cap limit.

What’s in the district budget

∫ The proposed budget focuses on student-centered expenses and calls for maintaining all current staffing levels and existing academic programming.

∫ Full funding all extracurricular activities, student clubs like coding and gaming, athletics and other student programs.

∫ Increased services to address students’ social-emotional needs and mental health supplemented with increased staffing. This includes more ENL instruction, social work and occupational therapy.

∫ Reinstating the fifth grade band program.

∫ Technology support and equipment for students including the purchase of 1,000 Chromebooks.

∫ An $80,000 replacement of a maintenance truck, a $30,000 purchase of a machine to help maintain the district’s new turf football field, and funding to upgrade the district’s filtration systems.

GASD also established an Educational Foundation in 2020 to raise private funds to help supplement educational programs and initiatives for students beyond the budget.

Capital Reserve Fund Proposition

Voters will also be asked to consider a proposition establishing a Capital Reserve Fund with the ultimate amount of such fund to be $5 million for future capital project expenditures. This fund would allow the district to set aside money over a time period not to exceed 10 years, much like a savings account, from the district’s current unreserved fund balance (funds remaining at the end of the budget cycles). The district has earmarked some of these funds to improve indoor air quality and ventilation systems in schools, including mechanical and non-mechanical heating, ventilation, filtering systems, amongst a list of other upgrades, improvements and reconstruction work needed. The air quality and ventilation systems as mentioned are necessary to address the many health and safety issues that became apparent in the midst of the ongoing COVID pandemic.

Establishing a capital reserve fund using GASD’s fund balance will not increase property taxes because the money already exists and, therefore, does not need to be collected through taxes. .

The budget includes funding for McNulty Academy security updates – to allocate $135,000 in capital improvement funds to make security upgrades to McNulty Academy. The school lobby lacks a secured lockdown area once visitors gain access to the building, raising health and safety concerns. State building aid would cover 97 percent or up to $100,000 of the project cost, with $35,000 being paid with other state aid.

Running unopposed for re-election are incumbents Gavin Murdoch and Curtis Peninger. Each seat carries a new three-year term beginning July 1.

Broadalbin-Perth

A proposed $38,760,750 budget for the 2021-22 school year. The proposed budget calls for no tax levy increase.

The proposed budget represents a 7.98 percent spending increase. Two-thirds of that spending increase is a direct result of the 2016 capital project; Broadalbin-Perth will begin the 15-year payback period on the last $28.7 million of the project. The district will see a proportionate increase in state building aid, which is paying for 80 percent of the project costs.

Although the local share of the 2016 capital project is expected to increase approximately $250,000 during the 2021-22 school year, members of the Board of Education voted to use appropriated fund balance and debt service reserves to cover that increase, eliminating the need to raise taxes for the coming year.

A simple majority of voters is required for budget approval.

All in-person voting will take place at the Robert C. Munn Gymnasium at B-P Senior High School, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Canajoharie

Canajoharie Central School District residents will head to the polls to vote on a proposed $23,125,725 budget for 2021-22. This budget represents a spending increase of 2.28 percent, and carries zero percent property tax levy increase, and a simple majority is needed.

While developing the budget, district leaders focused on maintaining and enhancing programs while being mindful of the impact to the taxpayers. The district received an increase in state aid along with federal stimulus funds, which district leaders plan to use to create opportunities for students and to position the district financially. The district must submit a full  plan by July 1 on how it will use the federal funding.

The increase to the budget can be mainly attributed to annual contractual obligations, health insurance, and special education costs.

Other propositions

Voters will also elect one BOE member, and decide on a bus proposition to lease three 70-passenger school buses at an annual cost not to exceed $19,775 each. There will also be propositions to establish a capital bus reserve fund, and an equipment reserve fund.

“We want to establish an equipment reserve for items such as trucks, lawnmowers, larger equipment purchases, and furniture, which will be used instead of infusing expenses into our yearly budgets. By establishing this account, we can pull funds when needed instead of worrying about including it in our budget line items,” Superintendent Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald said the district will also allocate funds to the employee retirement system reserve to offset annual charges, and build upon the capital project reserve so it can offer a larger building project without impacting taxpayers.

BOE candidate are Patricia Prime and David Nightingale Sr.

Dolgeville

Community voting will be held on in the high school cafeteria. The following proposals will be on the ballot:

A $18,967,328 budget that carries the state’s capped tax levy increase for DCS at 3.765 percent.

Two candidates for two seats on the Board of Education.

To allow the district to expend funds from the 2020 Transportation Vehicle Reserve Fund for the purchase of one 64- passenger bus.

To allow the district to appoint a student, as established pursuant to law, to serve on the school board as an ex officio non-voting member.

Community members will be asked to consider these proposals:

Allow the district to purchase one 64-passenger bus using the established 2020 Transportation Vehicle Reserve Fund.

Select two Board of Education candidates for two seats. Each seat carries a five-year term. The candidates on the ballot are Scott Hongo II and Carolyn A. Williams.

Fonda-Fultonville

A proposed $30,844,918 budget for the 2021-22 school year. The plan continues all existing student programs and support services with a 3.34 percent year-to-year spending increase and a tax levy at the district’s limit. Polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m. in the high school auditorium.

FFCS will continue all existing student programs and support services in the 2021-22 budget. The year-to-year spending increase amounts to or 3.34 percent or $997,207.

The district is balancing the budget through a combination of fund balance, state aid and property taxes. The proposed budget includes a tax levy increase of 0.29 percent, or $31,353. This is at the tax cap of 0.29 percent.

Federal stimulus money is not included in the 2021-22 spending plan. Stimulus funds will not be used for ongoing costs.

Academic excellence

Under the proposed budget, the district will continue to pursue academic excellence and opportunities for students. The plan prioritizes rigorous academic programs, supports for student mental health and social/emotional learning, and restores extracurricular, athletics and arts programs that were cut from the current budget.

The district will reallocate resources to increase services for students without increased costs. For example, the proposed budget includes the hire of a full-time school psychologist instead of contracting for a part-time school psychologist service at the same cost.

FFCS will accelerate its educational technology plans with increased distance learning opportunities for students and enhanced equipment in classrooms.

Based on state aid projections, available revenue for next year will not cover the growth in expenses. The district has a budget gap that needs to be closed.

The enacted state budget no longer includes long-term provisions that would have reduced school aid for districts. FFCS will receive a year-to-year $349,316 increase in state foundation aid. State aid accounts for almost two-thirds of the district’s revenue.

School districts in New York will be required to develop a plan and apply for federal stimulus money from the CARES Act. These stimulus funds will not be used for ongoing operational costs such as salaries or transportation. Stimulus money will be tied to targeted costs, including summer programs, technology, and social-emotional supports for students.

FFCS is developing a plan for the stimulus funds to support student achievement and continued health and safety measures related to COVID-19.

FFCS is planning to use $1 million in reserves and fund balance to help balance the budget. Because the proposed tax levy increase is at the cap, the proposed budget will require a simple majority vote for approval.

During the budget vote, voters will consider a proposition to approve a five-year lease for a 28-passenger bus and a 66-passenger bus at a cost not to exceed $157,000 total. Voter approval of the lease will allow the district to continue to have three leased buses.

Voters will elect three candidates to serve three-year terms on the board of education starting July 1. The seats are presently occupied by Michelle Isabella, Dennis Egelston and Domenic DiNatale, whose terms end June 30. All three incumbents are seeking re-election.

Fort Plain

The budget vote is from 1 to 9 p.m. in the Harry Hoag Elementary School gymnasium.

The Fort Plain Board of Education adopted a proposed $21,875,000 budget for the 2021-22 school year. The proposed budget would maintain all academic programming with no increase in the tax levy.

The proposed budget would maintain all academic programming with no increase in the tax levy. The proposed budget is an increase of $500,000, or 2.34 percent, over the current-year budget, but does not raise the tax levy, as funds would be allocated from increased state aid to cover school faculty and staffing costs, as well as adding offerings such as summer and after-school enrichment.

Voters will also consider a referendum authorizing the district to acquire school vehicles at a maximum cost of $275,000.bThe purchase would not have an impact on the tax levy, and would allow the district to replace aging buses and minimize maintenance costs.

Voters will also elect two members of the Board of Education for three-year terms running for three years are incumbent Kimberly Keane and Teresa Karker.

Galway

The annual budget lection will be between the hours of 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.  in the Galway High School auditorium lobby, at which time polls will be open.  

There are two vacancies on the Galway Central School District Board of Education. These vacancies are for four-year terms of office that are are currently held by Jay Anderson and Stacey Caruso-Sharpe.     

   

Gloversville

Residents will be asked to consider a $67,262,883 budget for the 2021-22 school year and the purchase of two 66-passenger school buses. The bus purchase will have no financial impact on the general fund budget or the tax levy, but are still subject to voter approval. The polls will be open for in-person voting between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. at the Gloversville High School and the Bleecker Town Hall. The proposed budget represents a 1.78 percent decrease in expenditures due in large part to the change in debt service and reductions in the cost of health insurance. The tax levy will increase by $172,546 or 1.13 percent as determined by the state property tax cap calculation.

For additional information, please contact the Election Clerk (518) 775-5706 or cmeher@gesdk12.org.

Johnstown

Polls will be open for in-person voting from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Johnstown Junior-Senior High School auditorium lobby.

The proposed 2021-22 budget of $39,967,989 represents a 2.5 percent spending increase and a tax levy increase of 3.8 percent, which is within the district’s allowable state tax levy cap increase. The tax levy increase will be within the cap, meaning only a simple majority will be required to pass the budget. The estimated annual increase on a $100,000 home would be $63.

Voters will also see three other propositions on the ballot and be asked to vote on three candidates who are running for three open board positions, each of which will hold three-year terms. Board members are not compensated. Here are the candidates who will be on this year’s ballot: Ronald Beck, Arthur R. Schrum Jr. and Jennifer Sponnoble.

Mayfield

Residents of the Mayfield Central School District will vote on a proposed $20,216,034 school budget. 

The proposed budget calls for a 2.21 percent increase in the tax levy, which is within the district’s allowable limit as calculated under the state’s tax cap formula. As a result of cost savings, mainly from health insurance, the district is able to balance next year’s budget without using its fund balance.

The budget proposal would increase September school tax bills by approximately $53.42, or $4.45 per month, for a home with a $100,000 assessment.

Voting will be held from noon to 8 p.m. in the gym lobby at the Jr./Sr. High School, 27 School St.

The budget includes $100,000 for a Capital Outlay Project for lighting upgrades at the Junior-Senior High School.

The district is slated to receive funding from the federal government’s two coronavirus relief packages. This money is required to be put in the Special Aid Fund, so it is not included in the General Fund 2021-22 budget. As stipulated by the government, a significant portion of the funds will be used to address learning loss, academic gaps and social-emotional needs created by the pandemic, including after-school or extended-day activities and summer enrichment. This money will be used over a three-year period.

In addition to voting on the 2021-22 school budget, the community also will consider allowing the district to purchase a 66-passenger bus and a Chevy Suburban for transporting students for a total of approximately $174,000. This is a separate proposition on the ballot and will have no impact on the 2021-22 tax levy.

∫ Electing one Board of Education member to a five-year term.

Highlights of the 2021-22 proposed budget include:

∫The district is planning to expand its summer school offering, which will be partially grant-funded. The six-week programs at the elementary and secondary levels will be aimed at closing gaps in students’ skills that have primarily occurred because of the pandemic. Breakfast and lunch will be provided to students at no cost.

∫ The district will invest in a new English Language Arts program at the elementary level that aligns with the state’s Next Generation Standards. Aimed at helping students establish foundational skills in reading and writing, it also will target social-emotional learning and critical thinking. The series will include both printed and digital materials for activities such as writers workshops, guided reading, peer conferencing and lessons for struggling learners. 

∫ MCSD will continue its commitment to empowering students and staff through the use of technology. The 2020-21 school year saw the implementation of a full 1:1 device program for all grades, which has proved essential in the fully-remote and hybrid learning models. The investment will continue with the first phase of a replacement program that includes 300 Chromebooks for district students.

∫ The district will continue to invest in software technology that supports students’ academic advancement, as well as staff professional development. The proposed budget includes funding for the online platform IXL Learning to provide students with personalized support in math and language arts. Teachers will gain access to the online program Tableau to help them more easily analyze student data to enhance student growth and the collaborative resource Essential Ed, which offers curriculum support.

∫ The district will realize some savings with the retirement of several longtime teachers and support staff. Additionally, the premiums of employees and retirees on the district’s PPO health insurance plan, which typically rise each year, will decrease 5 percent.

∫ A bigger savings, however, will come from a recent change in the provider of retirees’ Medicare Advantage health insurance plan. In January 2021, both retirees and the district saw significant decreases in their health insurance premiums, which will continue into the 2021-22 school year.

Northville

Community members will be voting on the annual budget for Northville Central School District and have the opportunity to make decisions on several things: the annual budget, a Capital Project, a bus purchase, and a board member. The 2.97 percent the board approved is below the allowable tax cap. 

The vote for the next Capital Project — The vote would allow the Board to make use of these funds previously approved for a Capital Project. 

The bus purchase is to replace a 65-passenger bus. 

John Stortecky is running for the open Board position. 

In addition to the work on next year’s budget, the district has been receiving information about available Federal grants and creating a plan to apply for funds to address the needs of students, staff and the building as we emerge from the pandemic.  These funds, termed the American Rescue Plan Act, will provide the district with expanded and different resources not in our annual budget.  The grant provides resources for three years. 

OESJ

The proposed 2021-22 school budget keeps taxes the same as the 2020-21 school year while maintaining all student programs.

While the Board of Education could have raised taxes by as much as 1.33 percent according to the 8-step state tax levy formula, board members opted to keep the tax levy increase to zero.

OESJ, as did all other school districts, received a boost in state aid from the state budget. The state Legislature also promised to fully fund Foundation Aid over the next three years.

Though not included in this budget, federal stimulus funding for OESJ is in place to keep school finances in order until 2024.

Fifty-nine percent of the budget goes for salaries and benefits and 11 percent is for debt payments.

The budget adds a Jr./ Sr. High School math and Spanish teacher, an elementary teacher and includes a health insurance premium increase of 13.5 percent.

The budget includes these reductions: Transportation supervisor, special education teacher and two retirees from the fall have not been replaced. Community voting is held from noon to 8 p.m. at OESJ Junior-Senior High School auditorium, 44 Center St., St. Johnsville; OEJS Elementary School auditorium, 6486 Route 29, St. Johnsville.

If you live in the former St. Johnsville school district, you vote at the Junior-Senior High School. If you live in the former Oppenheim-Ephratah school district, you vote at the Elementary School. If you are unsure where to vote, contact District Clerk Stephanie Bonk at stephanie. bonk@oesj.org or by calling (518) 568-7280.

Wells

Voting is between 12:30 and 8 p.m.

Wheelerville

Voting is between noon to 8 p.m.

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