School board OKs $50.69M budget

A proposed $50.69 million budget with a tax levy increase of 6.9 percent was approved Thursday by th

A proposed $50.69 million budget with a tax levy increase of 6.9 percent was approved Thursday by the Gloversville Board of Education.

School officials were unable Thursday to forecast tax rates. But officials announced that about $570,000 in cuts to the previous budget draft made since Monday include almost $200,000 in concessions from teachers and administrators’ unions on health insurance contributions. Those employees’ responsibility will increase from 16 to 20 percent of premiums. Also, school board members included in the budget to send to voters $200,000 in, as yet, unidentified staff cuts.

The school board will save another $50,000 by eliminating seventh-grade modified sports programs and $100,000 by making cuts in student clubs and extracurricular activities.

Superintendent Robert DeLilli said the staff cuts will be targeted based on further evaluation and may come from any of the employee groups in the district.

The school board met in executive session for more than two hours Thursday before opening the doors and almost immediately adopting the budget.

DeLilli said the long private session was justified because all the cuts involved discussion of specific employees.

The board was scheduled to adopt a budget Monday, but decided to make additional cuts from the proposal it was then considering. Business Administrator Steven Schloicka said the Monday night proposal would have raised the tax levy by 12.2 percent.

The approved budget increases spending about 9 percent from the current edition of $46.8 million.

Frank Carangelo was the only board member to oppose the budget, which will go to voters May 20.

DeLilli pointed out that current state budget formulas would allow a contingency budget in Gloversville to increase the tax levy by 19 percent. He said the board would never allow that to happen.

District officials are blaming the financial squeeze on the declaration this month by the state Education Department that Gloversville must participate in the Contract For Excellence program. The designation, imposed because the increase in the current year’s state aid exceeds the previous year’s by 10 percent and the district has a school classified as “in need of improvement,” forces Gloversville to use $1.8 million of its $2.7 million operational aid package on new programs.

Board member Lynn Brown said being forced to earmark the state aid puts the district “in a tailspin. Our hands are literally tied.”

Member Gino Calandra said the designation is even harder to take because Gloversville expects to have its middle school off the improvement list in June, long before the new school year starts in September. If the state Education Department had completed grading this past winter’s standardized tests in April as planned, Calandra claims, Gloversville would have been off the list and never put in the new category.

Schloicka said school officials have been discussing the district’s plight with state Sen. Hugh T. Farley, R-Niskayuna, who is trying to arrange special “bullet aid” for Gloversville. But there are no guarantees, Schloicka said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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