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Schools districts adopt budgets, more on their way

Schools districts adopt budgets, more on their way

Schools districts adopt budgets, more on their way
Photographer: Stock images

A handful of Capital Region school districts adopted 2019-2020 school year budgets this past week as even more are in line to adopt budgets this coming week.

The Niskayuna, Saratoga Springs, Mohonasen, Scotia-Glenville and Duanesburg school boards have all adopted budget proposals that will go up for voter approval on May 21. Even more districts are slated to adopt their budgets by the end of this week.

The school district budgets passed so far offer a view of the starkly different place school district leaders find themselves: Mohonasen finds itself slashing 19 staff positions, including teachers in both primary and secondary grades, while other districts are able to hire new teachers and social workers.

Schenectady City School District, which is scheduled to adopt a final budget next week, is considering a $4 million program expansion that would mean the addition of nearly 60 new staff positions, including about 30 new teacher positions.

Last week, the Niskayuna school board adopted its $87.5 million spending plan, which comes with a 2.35 percent tax levy increase, slightly below the district's 2.5 percent tax cap. The budget includes the addition of new teachers in an effort to maintain current class-size targets. The final change to the budget made room to boost social worker staffing enough to have a full-time social worker at each of the district's two middle schools.

The Mohonasen school board adopted its $54.35 million budget, which eliminates 19 staff positions and lifts the district tax levy by 3.8 percent. Positions eliminated under the budget proposal include two administrators, six elementary school teachers, three secondary teachers, one librarian, a part-time music teacher, a part-time art teacher, two cleaners, two school monitors, one IT technician, a bus mechanic, a central office account clerk and another clerical position.

Not quite half of the eliminated positions will be through attrition, while the other positions will result in layoffs. With the cuts, class sizes are expected to rise at the elementary level from one to four students per class.

Johnstown schools face an even more dire budget picture as they ask district voters to support lifting the tax levy by 35 percent in an effort to stave off a dramatic reduction of fundamental school services like offering athletics and kindergarten.

The Saratoga Springs school board adopted its $129.5 million, which adds a social worker position and eliminates a school psychologist position. The budget proposal comes with a 3 percent tax levy increase, which falls within the district's tax cap.

Districts that haven't adopted budget proposals yet plan to do so in the coming week, with final property tax data due to state officials April 17.

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