Spending plan requires 60 percent voter support
On Tuesday, May 21, voters will decide on a
$76.3 million budget proposed for the 2013-14
school year in Niskayuna that increases spending
by 1.31 percent. Voters will also choose from
among seven candidates for three seats on the
Board of Education.
The spending plan will require the support of 60
percent of voters to pass because it calls for a
tax levy that is greater than the district’s
calculated limit under the state’s tax levy cap
law. The proposed tax levy represents a 5.76
percent increase from the current year, and is
about $560,000 higher than the district’s limit
for a simple majority vote under the law.
The proposed budget maintains the overwhelming
majority of current programs and services in a
year when district leaders contended with rising
costs and the loss of non-tax revenue. Reserve
funds are limited, and state aid is set to
decrease for a fourth consecutive year to a
level that is about $2 million less than in
Officials made about $2.5 million in spending
reductions across most areas of the district,
which resulted in the year-to-year spending
increase of 1.31 percent. Still, given the loss
of other revenue, a tax levy increase of 5.76
percent was needed to balance the budget without
"Our fiscal challenges continue to be rooted
in diminished state aid year after year,”
Superintendent Susan Kay Salvaggio said. “Given
this fact, developing a budget for next year
required a mix of difficult decisions. We worked
to contain costs and balance the tax levy
increase with reductions — always keeping in
mind the community’s desire to maintain the
quality of our schools.”
Closing the $6 million budget gap
The Board of Education developed the budget
proposal over the course of 12 public meetings,
including three community forums. In addition to
the tax levy increase, the Board balanced the
budget in the following ways:
Operational Efficiencies and Cost
Examples: Bus garage purchase to save on lease
costs, modified custodial and groundskeeping
Aligning staffing to enrollment
Staffing levels were adjusted based on
enrollment at the elementary and middle school
levels. At the elementary level, class sizes
will continue to be monitored and, where
necessary, controlled through the district’s
Class Size Management Plan. High school staffing
levels were adjusted based on course requests.
Average class sizes at all levels will remain
similar to the current year.
Program Reductions ($630,350)
These account for about one-fourth of total
reductions. See below for details.
Administrative Reductions ($955,450)
This includes an increase in the teaching
assignments of academic directors to 40 percent
of a full-time teaching assignment, as well as
the difference in salary between retiring
teachers and teachers who are newly-hired.
State aid and appropriated fund balance
Although total state funding for the district is
decreasing from this year to next, the final
state budget included $196,000 more for
Niskayuna than the district’s earlier
projections, which helped balance the budget.
Additionally, an adjustment to the district’s
plans for appropriated fund balance helped close
the gap. The district sets aside a certain
amount each year to maintain cash flow and to
help balance the following year’s budget. The
$2.5 million officials initially planned to
incorporate for these purposes into next year’s
budget was lowered by $710,000. Although this
potentially limits the amount available for
2014-15, district leaders continue to actively
pursue revenue options that could result in the
availability of the full $2.5 million.
How will the program reductions impact students?
At the High School level, a small number of
electives may not be offered, or may be offered
on an alternating year basis.
The sizes of some instrumental and vocal music
lesson groups will increase.
Freshman athletics, which typically has about
125 participants on eight teams, will be
eliminated. The remaining levels of modified,
junior varsity, and varsity will continue to
provide about 1,600 spots on teams to students
in grades 7-12.
The Explorers Elementary Enrichment program will
Staffing impact of budget decisions
The equivalent of 8 full-time support staff
positions and 13.83 teaching positions will be
eliminated. Actual layoffs will be lower than
these figures due to attrition through
retirements and resignations.