Schalmont poised to adopt $55 million budget with no tax increase

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ROTTERDAM — For the third consecutive year, the Schalmont school board is poised to adopt a budget that would not raise taxes. 

The school district’s board of education will vote next week on a $55.8 million budget for the 2023-24 academic year that would increase spending by $2.3 million, or 4%, without raising any taxes. The district’s tax levy would remain at $29.9 million under the proposal. 

The proposed spending plan would preserve all programming, and add two elementary positions and 1 1/2 special education positions.

“We’re excited to continue the great programs we have for our students and invest in areas to improve their education,” Superintendent Thomas Reardon said, “and we’re fortunate to be able to do that without raising taxes on our community.”

If approved, taxpayers from the Schalmont Central School District, who are spread out in Schenectady, Montgomery and Albany counties, would next have to approve the spending plan during a May 16 budget referendum. 

Under the proposed budget, the district is expecting to receive $10.8 million in Foundation Aid, the main source of state funding. The $2 million increase would mark a 21% bump from the current funding level of $8.9 million. 

A bulk of the new spending can be attributed to a $1.7 million increase in instructional costs, or a 6.5% rise from the current level of $26.2 million to $27.9 million under the proposal. The uptick in spending includes an estimated 5% increase in contracted salary costs and $450,000 for the purchase of new student Chromebooks. 

The district is also seeking to use $2.9 million in fund balance, a 12.3% increase from the $2.3 million the district currently uses.

Reardon said the increase is attributed to the district’s plan to purchase five school buses at a cost of $665,000, which would be bought outright using the fund balance as opposed to borrowing, which would end up costing taxpayers more in the long term.

Voters would also be required to approve the school bus purchasing in a separate proposition that will be included on the ballot during the budget vote next month. 

In the past, the district has utilized fund balance to purchase new buses, but did so after voters already approved an operating budget, Reardon said. 

“Last year, that wasn’t built into the fund balance piece,” he said. 

The district is also budgeting an additional $474,293 for benefits, which Reardon attributed to an increase in health insurance.  

The school board is expected to adopt the budget at its Sunday, April 17 meeting. 

From there, voters would decide whether to approve the budget on May 16.

Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: [email protected] or by calling 518-395-3120.

Categories: News, Rotterdam, Schenectady County

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