Schenectady County

Schenectady schools budget draft at $153M

Spending in the city school district would increase about $13 million, to $153 million, under a prel
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Spending in the city school district would increase about $13 million, to $153 million, under a preliminary budget proposal reviewed by the Board of Education on Wednesday.

Assistant Superintendent for Business Michael San Angelo said under the 2008-09 spending plan, the amount to be raised by local property taxes would increase by more than $2 million, to $50.3 million. The tax rate is currently $31.62 per $1,000 of assessed value and the tax bill on an average city home assessed at $80,000 is about $2,371. No projected tax rate was released.

Superintendent Eric Ely said this is just the first version of the budget and probably not what the final will be when voters head to the polls on May 20.

San Angelo said among the major cost items are increases of $7.2 million for salaries and benefits, $1 million for transportation costs, $1.2 million for BOCES, $800,000 for special education and $500,000 in other expenses.

The budget includes roughly $92 million in state aid. However, San Angelo said those numbers are in flux because the district does not know the exact amount of state aid it will receive. The Assembly and Senate have put together different budgets, and Ely said he had not seen updated figures. An earlier four-year plan had a larger amount of aid than is now anticipated.

Board President Jeff Janiszewski said he was upset that the Legislature could back away from the funding commitment for this year.

“Yeah, it’s a bad year but that’s the idea of a four-year commitment, you stay with it in good years and bad,” he said.

San Angelo also said the district would save about $3.6 million because it does not have to send funds to the soon-to-close International Charter School of Schenectady. The district is currently paying more than $7 million to send students to charter schools. Some of the money saved will be spent on more staff and programs as the charter school students come back into the district.

Ely also told the board Wednesday that he is not going to send any representatives from the district to a meeting the charter school is holding on Wednesday with parents to inform them about educational options for their children.

He has been told through the Charter School Institute that ICSS officials do not want the district officials there to talk about their elementary schools.

“I won’t send one person into that environment by themselves. It’s not fair to them,” he said.

He cited continuing efforts to reach out to parents of charter school children and plans to set up neighborhood meetings. Janiszewski called the charter school a “boondoggle” that has cost the taxpayers of Schenectady millions of dollars.

“We’re trying now to clean up their mess, and they’re making it as difficult as possible,” he said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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