Schalmont school board approves final 2022-23 budget with no tax increase, heads to public vote


ROTTERDAM-Residents in the Schalmont Central School District will vote May 17 on a budget that doesn’t raise taxes and proposes spending money for improvements to the district at no additional cost to taxpayers.

The final almost $53.5 million 2022-23 budget is a 2.1% increase from 2021-22. The bulk of the increase comes from benefits, which make up 12%, according to budget documents. Contractual salary increases are another 3% increase, as was special education and student support. The district is also looking at a 1.2% increase for BOCES and spending $50,000 more on technology. 

“Within this budget we maintained and balanced all of our programs and added some to the budget,” said board member Kyrish Iyer. 

The district will add one full-time social worker at Jefferson and bring a nurse up to full time status. 

The school district was able to save $300,000 due to some retirements. The district will also look to use $850,000 in debt service and employee benefit reserves. 

The district has budgeted conservatively $1.1 million in state aid, although it could receive around $1.7 million, said Superintendent Thomas Reardon. 

“There’s a cushion in there should we not receive all the expense based aid,” he said.

District residents will also need to vote on three propositions. One proposition calls for spending $6.1 million in improvements to parking, bus drop offs, pedestrian safety and the addition of air conditioning to the schools. 

The changes include:

  • A roundabout for the high school and the middle school to improve traffic flow
  • Add in more greenspace to help slow down drivers
  • Perimeter sidewalk at the middle school
  • New secondary staff parking lot near the middle school
  • New pre-kindergarten and kindergarten parent-student drop off point with curbing and sidewalks at Jefferson Elementary

“The end result will be you will be parents and buses through quicker and getting kids into the building faster,” said Edwin Anker, a consultant with Phinney Design Group.

The project would also include adding air conditioning to all classrooms in the district, the cafeterias of Jefferson Elementary and the high school and  air conditioning to the play space at Jefferson Elementary, Anker said. 

Of the $6.1 million needed for the project $5 million would come from the district capital project reserve account and another $1.1 million would come from the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds. 

If approved the work could be completed in early summer or late fall 2023, Reardon said. 

“It’s very rare to do this much work in a school district without a tax increase,” Anker said, noting he’s only seen it done about a half a dozen times during his 20-year career. 

Voters will also decide on whether the district should use $540,000 to bus six buses, Four of the buses would be brand new and another two would be the purchase of buses they are currently leasing. 

“So we will keep those buses, I think they’re $36,000 each rather than I think it was about $70,000 for brand new buses for that size,” Iyer said. “We maintain them, we know what they’re like.” 

This purchase would end the district’s past history of leasing buses, Iyer said. 

The third proposition would ask residents to allow the district to create a new capital reserve account that once approved the district would put $5 million into. 

Board members sounded support for the budget and propositions. Board member Patricia Dowse.

“It’s up to you guys in the community to let us know if we’re meeting the expectations of our students first and foremost,” she said.

The public hearing will be 7 p.m. April 27 at the middle school.

Reporter Shenandoah Briere can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on twitter at SB_DailyGazette. 

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