On Jan. 18, Gov. Kathy Hochul outlined the fiscal year 2023 executive budget proposal, which includes $31.3 billion in education funding and aims to fulfill the promise to fully fund Foundation Aid.
The release of the Executive Budget Proposal marks the formal beginning of the annual state budget process and will be followed by negotiations between the governor and the state Legislature. The deadline for an on-time budget from the state is April 1.
For South Colonie, that means budget planning has commenced. Hochul’s tentative plan includes an increase of 20.35% or 3,802,731 in Foundation Aid for the district for the 2020-23 school year. While Foundation Aid is the largest source of general operating funds for school districts, it makes up just 25% of the revenue for the South Colonie’s current year budget.
Other revenue outlined in the proposal includes funding the second of a three-year phase-in of Foundation Aid and fully funding expense-based aids or reimbursements for spending in specific areas such as transportation, facilities improvements, BOCES services and certain special education expenses.
“We are happy to see plans for some of the money to be returned that was cut during the GEA,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. David Perry. “We went through several years of deep cuts while the needs for our students continued to rise. After many years in which the level of Foundation Aid lagged behind what was due to the state’s schools, it is refreshing to see this significant step forward hopefully continue under Hochul’s leadership.”
Other factors that impact budget planning for South Colonie include the Tax Cap which is the highest allowable tax levy (before exemptions) that a school district can propose as part of its annual budget. But despite the fact that the district is set to receive additional revenue as outlined by the Governor, schools districts like South Colonie are also dealing with a rise in expenses including health insurance, salaries, pension contributions and overall inflation which is at its highest level since 1991, according to the state budget director Robert Mujica.
“Our focus for the upcoming school year will be to sustain programming at the current level and add programs that prioritize equitable academic needs and access to services for students,” said Jacqlene McAllister, assistant superintendent for management services and strategic planning. “Other priorities will be long term sustainability of our programs and facilities for the next generation of Colonie.”
South Colonie Board of Education and district leadership is currently underway conducting a comprehensive review of programs and services and will continue with the budget process.
A copy of the South Colonie budget calendar can be found here. More information will be shared with our school community as the process develops.