Fulton County

Gloversville school budget increases tax levy by 1.7 percent

The Gloversville Enlarged School District Board of Education Wednesday night adopted a $63.4 million

The Gloversville Enlarged School District Board of Education Wednesday night adopted a $63.4 million proposed 2015-16 budget with a tax levy increase of 1.6 percent, just below the state-mandated cap.

The total budget is up about $1.7 million from the current year, or about 2.7 percent, with a total proposed tax levy of about $14.2 million.

According to school officials, the budget contains three new teaching positions, as well as a few other staff and program expansions aimed at increasing the district’s graduation rate and improving academic success.

“One of the things that we’re trying to do that helps us with the graduation rate is, we need to improve our students’ reading ability,” said Superintendent of Schools Michael Vanyo. “We want them to be at grade level or above grade level.”

The 2015-16 budget proposal includes a new English language arts teacher and a new science teacher in the high school as part of the district’s Freshman Academy program, which will introduce block scheduling for ninth-graders, said Vanyo. Instead of 40-minute classes in each subject every day, students will have 80-minute classes every other day.

“It allows teachers to have common planning time, and they will also have common students in ninth grade,” said Vanyo. “So that small, core group of teachers can really look at attendance, behavior, academic progress, all kind of different things, and have discussions on a regular basis so that we can provide students the support they need.”

The budget also includes a new reading teacher in eighth grade to bolster the district’s Literacy Matters program, which focuses on reading and writing skills in elementary and middle school.

“We believe that everything revolves around this literacy piece,” said Vanyo. “If we can improve the literacy, then our students are going to be much better prepared, and if they’re better prepared, they’ll stay in school.”

The district’s most recent graduation rate was 67 percent, about 10 points below the state average. For the past several years, district leadership has been focusing on bringing that figure up, with a stated goal this year of increasing it by 3 percent.

The district also plans to expand its summer school program, currently for grades 3-5, to also include kindergarten and grades 1-2.

The district sent nine students to the regional Pathways to Technology for Early College and High School program this year for the first time. Next year, they’ll be sending nine more, doubling their involvement.

The budget proposal also includes expanding last year’s part-time driver’s education pilot program to full time, making a part-time truancy officer full time, and adding additional security cameras throughout the schools.

The district is set to receive about $41.5 million in state aid in 2015-16, an increase of about $1.1 million over the current year. With state aid estimates coming in late this year, Assistant Superintendent of Schools Steven Schloicka said district officials began their budget calculations with no projected increase in aid.

“So we made it very simple for ourselves, or, if you will, we made our jobs as difficult as possible,” he said. “So anything that we received, we’re very appreciative of.”

As in the current year, the budget proposal includes the use of $1.2 million from the district’s fund balance. Schloicka said the fund balance remains at 3.5 to 4 percent of the total budget, “so we’re actually very good.”

There are no staff cuts or major program reductions in the proposal, according to Schloicka.

“The expansions weren’t quite as large as maybe we hoped we could do,” he said. “We would love to be able to send 20 more students, for example, to alternative education at BOCES. But you have to live within your means. And we do, year after year.”

The budget will go to a public hearing May 5 and a vote May 19.

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