SCHENECTADY — The Schenectady City School District has launched an online survey seeking community input as it prepares to begin formulating its 2022-23 operating budget.
The survey, available on the district’s website, seeks input on a range of topics that will impact students going forward, including the importance of classroom technology, social and mental health services and the importance of a variety of school programs including sports and art.
In addition, the survey also seeks suggestions on what programs should be prioritized during the budget process and which should be reduced or eliminated.
The survey is the beginning of a monthslong process the district will undertake in formulating its budget for the next year. The budget is expected to be approved by the Board of Education in April, before being put up to a final community vote on May 17.
This year’s budget process will look a bit different than years past, according to Superintendent Anibal Soler.
For starters, the district is expected to receive its full allotment of state aid, an increase in more than $15 million, following a court ruling last year that determined schools have not been properly funded for years.
The infusion of money, expected for the next two years, has also changed the way the district will be approaching the budget this year, according to Soler.
Instead of rolling over the current budget and adding additional funding to certain line items like in years past, the district will essentially be starting over, basing the upcoming budget on the needs of each school in the district.
Soler attributed the new approach to his recent arrival in the district, but said the strategy will allow for more equitable learning opportunities for students. Soler began his tenure with the district last July.
“Typically you just roll over the budget and you start from there, except we’re going to kind of reset,” he said. “We also wanted to have a school budget that was equitable but really took the needs of the school level versus it being top-down saying you’re only getting x, y and z.”
Soler said district administrators are currently meeting with building principals to gain a better understanding of what their needs are and what gaps exist between elementary schools and middle schools within the district.
The ultimate goal is to have equitable opportunities for students across the district, so if a student is forced to switch schools in the middle of an academic year, they can transition seamlessly.
He added while the budget process is still in the early stages, the district is planning to set aside a pool of money for teachers to purchase classroom supplies, which has never happened within the district before, Soler said.
An update on the budget process is expected at the next Board of Education meeting on Feb. 16.
Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: 518-410-5117 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.