Clifton Park

Shen Board of Education adopts 2019-2020 budget

A sign at the entrance of the Shenendehowa campus is seen.
A sign at the entrance of the Shenendehowa campus is seen.

CLIFTON PARK — The Shenendehowa Central School District Board of Education approved a $177 million 2019-2020 budget during its meeting on April 9. 

The total budget, which comes in at $177,729,400 and represents a 2.3 percent increase over the 2018-2019 academic year budget, is slightly higher than $177,546,764, the amount the district proposed in March.

The proposal has a slight tax rate decrease.

A large unknown that Shen must contend with each year is the amount of state aid that the district will receive, which the district does not know until the New York state Legislature finalizes the state budget.

This year, Shen will receive $47,986,132 in state aid, up from last year’s amount of $47,207,010.

State aid covers 27 percent of the 2019-2020 budget, while local taxes cover just over 70 percent.

At the April 9 meeting, District Superintendent L. Oliver Robinson outlined some of the differences between the proposed budget and the one the board ultimately approved.

Some of the state aid funding could be directed to one of many district projects, including a push for making classroom spaces more engaged and cooperative.

Teachers, according to district officials, will be able to apply for some of the new, modernized furniture for specific activities via grant programs.

That plan, Robinson said, was originally planned to stretch out over four to five years. With the influx of state aid though, the district might see those plans come to fruition sooner.

“Now, we can maybe do that in two years,” Robinson said.

As is the case each year, a large percent of the district’s budget is related to personnel. Specifically, 55 percent of the budget, a figure close to $98 million, will go to paying for combined instructional, administrative and non instructional salaries.

Benefits make up the next largest budget chunk, coming in at 26 percent, or $46.6 million of the spending plan.

The district will also have a chance to save money during the upcoming school year, as 13 teachers have indicated their intent to retire, providing Shen with $538,600 in savings.

Also on the ballot will be an annual bus replacement proposition. Each year, the district purchases a slew of new buses for its fleet, retiring older ones.

According to Shen’s data, district buses traveled more than 2.1 million miles during the 2017-2018 school year. For the 2019-2020 school year, the district will seek to purchase 20 buses of various sizes for a cost not to exceed $2,189,124.

Specifically, Shen will purchase 14 72-passenger buses and 6 29-passenger buses.

Also on the ballot will be three open seats on the district’s Board of Education.

There will be a public hearing on the budget on May 7 during the school board’s meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. at the Gowana Middle School library.

The public vote on the proposals and school board seats will be held in the Gowana Middle School gymnasium on May 21 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Qualified voters must be at least 18 years old, a U.S. citizen, and a resident of the Shenendehowa district for at least 30 days prior to the vote. Shen has estimated that there are 50,000 to 55,000 qualified voters in the district.

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