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April 6, 2016

Board of Education adopts $80.4 million budget proposal for 2016-17

At its meeting on Tuesday, April 5, the Board of Education adopted an $80.4 million budget proposal for the 2016-17 school year, in line with the spending plan that was presented last month. The community will vote on the budget on May 17.

The proposed budget continues all current programs and services and provides for some targeted additions and restorations to meet needs that were identified throughout the year, including at program presentations at Board meetings.

The budget carries a spending increase of 3.02 percent and a tax levy increase at the district's cap of 0.41 percent.

View the budget presentation from the meeting [PDF]

The restorations and additions include: an increase of one full-time school psychologist at the elementary level; two elementary classroom sections based on enrollment; increased English as a New Language staff at the middle school level to meet new requirements; additional Math teaching staff to address class sizes at Van Antwerp; and a modest increase in teaching staff at the high school to continue current courses based on student requests.

The state aid increase for the district in the final state budget approved last week - resulting from the end of the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) - provided the revenue needed to support the budget plan.

The state implemented the GEA in 2009-10 to address its own budget shortfall at the time by diverting promised funding from schools. The amount of aid withheld from Niskayuna through the GEA ranged from $1.6 million and $3.5 million in the years it was in place.

"The state aid increase we are receiving is both welcome and necessary to allow us to put forward a budget that advances teaching and learning and meets some identified needs with a tax levy increase at our cap of 0.41 percent," Dr. Tangorra said. "My hope is that this is the beginning of a period in which we will continue to make restorations and investments in our students, our faculty and our programs, guided by a strategic focus."

Dr. Tangorra presented the draft budget as part of a broader plan for next year that includes maintaining a strong focus on students; strengthening support and services for students; and advancing operational and facilities improvement planning initiatives.

Also at the meeting, the Board authorized placing propositions on the May 17 ballot for the purchase of nine replacement buses and to establish a capital reserve. The reserve, to be funded over time, is a mechanism that helps lessen the year-to-year tax impact of future capital projects.

There are also three seats on the Board of Education up for election on May 17.

More information will be shared with the community in the annual budget newsletter mailed to all residents and at a series of open community and PTO meetings in the weeks ahead where Dr. Tangorra will talk about the budget and the district's strategic plan.