Following an extensive review of program priorities and evaluation of feedback from the school community, the South Colonie Board of Education adopted a proposed budget on April 19 totaling $122,194,702.
The budget calls for a 7.7% spending increase over the current school year and an increase in the district tax levy of 1.99% — this is below the district’s projected tax levy limit of 2.19%
Although assessments and equalization rates will not be known until August, the district estimates the average Colonie property owner with a home market value of $200,000 would pay $5.31 per month more in school taxes next year under the proposed spending plan.
State budget still pending
On Feb. 1 Gov. Kathy Hochul outlined the fiscal year 2024 executive budget proposal. The release of the Executive Budget Proposal marked the formal beginning of the annual state budget process which is followed by negotiations between the governor and the state Legislature. The deadline for an on-time budget from the state was April 1.
At this time the state has not delivered its final budget. While state aid final numbers and Universal Pre-K funding outlined in the final state budget could impact South Colonies final budget after adoption, any changes would be offset by the district’s fund balance so information shared with taxpayers would not vary.
The proposed 2023-24 budget preserves all current programs and services and provides key enhancements as outlined below:
Transportation and O&M Highlights
- Transportation technology upgrades to improve ease of transportation route mapping for staff leading to an enhanced transportation experience for students and families.
- Bus maintenance replacement plan to ensure students are transported on buses that meet the latest safety standards while allowing the district to phase out older, high mileage vehicles to avoid the cost inefficiencies related to keeping them in service.
- Implementation of district wide maintenance and paving plan to support on-going wear and tear.
- 1 Full time sub bus driver
- 1 Pupil trans analyst
Student Support Services Highlights
- Student support services highlights include additional staff to support the growing needs of ENL (English New Language) and special education student populations.
- Continued emphasis on social-emotional health through sustaining previously added staffing for those areas.
- 3 Special education teachers
- 2 TAs
- 2 ENL teachers
- 1 ENL TA
- 2 Monitors
- 1 Administrator
- The instructional highlights include additional teachers to enhance programs and support smaller class sizes.
- Additional staff to support expanded UPK programming.
- Continued STEAM education programming at the elementary and middle school levels.
- Continued career exploration program for students to gain knowledge and exposure to the most desired and applicable career experiences, college majors, associate degrees and skilled trade professions.
- Implementation of district wide technology replacement plan to support on-going wear and tear and applicable upgrades.
- 7.6 Teachers to enhance programs and reduce class sizes
- 2 Teachers/TAs for UPK expansion
- 1 Administrator
- 50 Stimulus funded positions to continue
- Coaching/advisor positions
- Replace retirements
Human Resources Highlights
Continue paperless workflow initiatives through SchoolFront to improve internal efficiencies.
- 1.0 Payroll/HR Support (shared position)
- Continue to prioritize inclusive communications with students, staff, and community members.
- Implementation of new district website.
- 0.5 Communications Specialist (offset expense by reducing BOCES service)
In addition to voting on the school budget, South Colonie residents will be asked to consider authorizing the purchase of eight replacement school buses of various sizes—six (6) 66 passenger buses, one (1) 18/3 wheelchair bus and one (1) 42 passenger bus — overall cost not to exceed $1,318,000.
The bus purchase is part of an ongoing bus replacement plan designed to ensure students are transported on buses that meet the latest safety standards while allowing the district to phase out older, high mileage vehicles to avoid the cost inefficiencies related to keeping them in service.
In addition to voting on the proposed budget and propositions, voters also will elect candidates to fill two open seats on the Board of Education.
Budget hearing set for Tuesday, May 2
On Tuesday, May 2 at 7 p.m. the district will hold a public hearing at Saddlewood Elementary so residents may learn more about the proposed budget and bus proposition. The public hearing will also be open to all South Colonie Community Members for viewing on the district’s YouTube channel.
Budget Vote Details
Date: Tuesday, May 16
Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Locations: Voting will take place this year at new polling locations at both Sand Creek and Lisha Kill Middle Schools. Registered voters who are unsure on their assigned polling location can look it up here: https://vip.ntsteamed.com