Increase in school spending is forecast

Officials from the Greater Amsterdam School District are projecting an 8 percent increase in spendin

Officials from the Greater Amsterdam School District are projecting an 8 percent increase in spending for the 2008-09 budget.

District Business Manager Roger Seward told school board members Tuesday that he estimated spending $53.6 million for the next school year, an increase of nearly $4 million. The majority of the proposed district spending would pay for personnel and transportation costs.

The board also heard a recommendation by Superintendent Ronald Limoncelli to go forward with plans to build six new classrooms at William H. Barkley Elementary School.

Seward said district officials have already cut $1 million in spending from the budget, including clerical and custodial positions, additional special education support, a ninth-grade football program and four new buses.

District officials are expecting to receive $32.6 million in state aid, although the state Legislature has yet to debate the budget, which could alter the amount of aid to public schools by the time the state budget is adopted.

Seward said because the district is on the state’s list of schools that are in need of improvement, the district has less control over how it spends that state aid.

The district has a high percentage of students who are considered economically disadvantaged: 18 percent of the district’s students have disabilities, and 6 percent of the district’s students speak limited English.

The district is mandated by the state to use a certain percentage of its aid to maintain existing programs and a larger percentage to create new programs. The new programs have to be approved by the state, and the district has to show how much improvement they expect each program will generate. The district is expecting to use $1.4 million to establish new programs, including extended after-school tutoring, transportation services for after-school tutoring and full day prekindergarten at all four elementary schools, which Limoncelli said he expected would be mandatory by 2010.

Limoncelli said the push toward full day prekindergarten was one of the reasons he and the school board’s facilities committee were recommending moving forward with architectural plans to build new classrooms at Barkley Elementary School.

Limoncelli said the additional classrooms will also help balance the populations at all four of the district’s elementary schools. Currently there are 449 students at Marie Curie Institute; 467 at Ralph J. McNulty Academy; 477 at William B. Tecler Elementary School and 314 at Barkley Elementary School.

Limoncelli said there is also the potential for growth within the district. He said the school board has the option to halt the construction project even if the plans are already drawn up.

Construction would not take place until summer 2009.

Categories: Schenectady County

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