School board puts budget in place

A budget almost identical to the version defeated last week by district voters was approved Tuesday

A budget almost identical to the version defeated last week by district voters was approved Tuesday as a contingency budget by the city’s school board.

The $50.7 million contingency budget will raise the tax levy the same 6.9 percent offered in the defeated version for the school year starting July 1.

The board also decided to conduct a new election — probably in early August — to reconsider the purchase of two buses at a cost not to exceed $190,000. State aid pays 90 percent of the bus cost, and district officials said they will launch an educational campaign to persuade voters of the wisdom of making the purchase. The alternative, a lease, would cost $70,000 per bus per year, officials said.

The board voted 7 to 1 to adopt the $50.7 million contingency budget, which is $4,000 less than the defeated proposal.

School board member Peter Semione opposed the move, arguing there remain too many unanswered questions.

Semione pointed out that a group of parents and some sixth-grade athletes spoke passionately at the outset of the meeting about the importance of reinstating seventh-grade sports. The board saved $42,000 by cutting that program in the defeated budget.

Parent Kevin Kucel raised the possibility that fundraising could allow reinstatement of the sports program. He asked district officials to determine how much each sport costs, a measure that would give parents fundraising goals. Superintendent Robert DeLilli said the board will explore the fundraising option.

There was some discussion of conducting a second vote on the budget, which was done in each of the last two years with success.

But school board member Frank Carangelo said he doubted the public would support a budget even if the board were able to reduce the levy increase by 2 percent.

In order to gain voter approval, school board Vice President Perry Paul said he believed a revised budget proposal would have to nearly eliminate a tax increase, a reduction he argued would be impossible.

Board member Lynn Brown said she would like to reinstate seventh-grade sports but conceded the contingency budget is the only practical option.

It costs about $15,000 to conduct an election, Paul said. Brown said she would regret spending that much on a new budget election only to have a new proposal defeated.

The contingency budget will compel outside organizations to pay for use of school facilities. That will have implications for the city of Gloversville, which was planning on paying $10,000 this summer for a youth swim program. DeLilli said costs may have to be adjusted.

Categories: Schenectady County

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