Schenectady County

Schenectady School District urged to wait on formal budget

There were still few concrete answers Wednesday regarding Schenectady City School District’s 2010-20

There were still few concrete answers Wednesday regarding Schenectady City School District’s 2010-2011 budget.

Superintendent Eric Ely is holding off on proposing a formal budget pending the resolution of several matters being discussed in Albany, including the state budget and how much the district can cut the Contract for Excellence Funds it receives as a low-performing district.

The district is facing about a $14.5 million budget gap, when factoring proposed state aid cuts.

Ely on Wednesday told the Board of Education he recommends using about half of the current $9.5 million in undesignated fund balance to help lower the tax rate. He did not recommend tapping into any of the designated reserves for specifi c items like workers compensation or liability.

Ely said he is worried about the federal stimulus money going away the following year.

“You need to have as much in reserve as you can. That year you might have a huge hole you need to fill,” he said.

Ely offered a few suggestions such as switching insurance plans.

Because the district has had some turnover and its average age is about 31, he believes they would be a significant savings if school officials switch from a communityrated to an experience-rated health insurance plan, where the insurer would just take into account the medical history of the Schenectady staff and not compare it with other businesses.

Getting the students who are currently attending New Covenant back to the district could also save $500,000, Ely said, since school officials would not have to pay the roughly $12,000 a student to educate them elsewhere.

Board member Jeff Janiszewski pointed to reports that the Assembly budget would restore half of the governor’s proposed education cuts so it is hard to get a grasp of the revenues at this point.

Because of all these unknowns, Ely wanted to hold off. Last year, the district was early with its budget presentation and circumstances changed with the federal stimulus money.

“I didn’t want to get that many of our staff members upset about potentially losing their jobs without that information,” he said.

The revised timetable would have Ely make his formal budget presentation next Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Mont Pleasant Middle school following by budget discussion. The would likely be a public hearing at the April 14 meeting, held at 7 p.m. at Hamilton Elementary School.

Categories: Schenectady County

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