UNOFFICIAL BUDGET VOTE AND ELECTION RESULTS
Budget Passes 1150 Yes |  269 No

Board Election: Erica Brockmyer (779 votes) and Jamaica Miles (667 votes) are elected to the Board of Education

Unofficial results by polling site HERE.


2021-2022 Budget MailerREQUIRED BUDGET DOCUMENTS

Board adopts $218.8 budget proposal that adds $3.6 million in programs and keeps the tax levy flat for the third consecutive year

Residents to vote on May 18

On April 28, the Schenectady City School District Board of Education adopted a $218,831,646 spending plan for the 2021-2022 School Year.  The plan, representing a $14.1 million or 6.9% increase over the current year, will add $3.6 million in programs and services and keeps the tax levy flat for the third consecutive year.  The proposed plan will also cover expenses for building assessment and long range planning costs, pay for repair and critical needs of the pool at Schenectady High School and provide for an increased principal payment on debt service.  A public hearing [VIDEO] was held on May 5. Voters will head to the polls to consider the plan and elect two members to the Board of Education on May 18. Final Budget Presentation (April 28)

The 2021-2022 plan is developed with the assumption that there will be a full-return to in-person teaching and learning in September and that all programs and services will be restored to how they were  prior to the pandemic.  All district buildings will be re-opened with their original grade levels, configurations and class sizes.

The budget proposal calls for 40 new positions to support the addition of a middle school 8-period day, adding attendance deans, decreasing elementary class sizes, expanding capacity of the educational equity and instructional support team and additional focus on restorative practice.  The new positions include the following:

Additionally, $20,000 is budgeted for instructional program materials and professional development.

Under the plan, $2.3 million transfers to capital, all eligible for building aid, will cover the following expenses: 

  • $75,000 to complete repairs to the Schenectady High School pool ramp

  • $100,000 to replace 23 doors, and to replace and re-key all door locks at Central Park Middle School.  This expense would be eligible for building aid the following year.

  • $250,000 to replace the pool dehumidifer system.  This needs to be done to keep the pool open and operating. 

  • Building Condition Survey
    • $225,000 to conduct a required building condition survey.  This is a review of all district buildings and systems.  It is required that this be done every five years.

  • Long Range Planning
    • $300,000 to conduct long range planning for Phase III Capital Projects.  This includes a demographic study, financial review and pre-referendum study prior to a capital project referendum.  If a referendum is approved, these expenses become part of the capital project and are eligible for building aid.  Meanwhile, the expense must be budgeted.

  • Principal Payment on BANs Renewal
    • $1.6 million for principal payment on the renewal of bond anticipation notes (BANs).  The district is required to pay $255,000 minimum payment but can benefit by making the principal payment, a difference of $1,345,000 to keep district level debt service.  Doing this would:

      • Reduce future debt service payments
      • Lower interest costs
      • Improve district balance sheet
      • Signal credit strength
      • Help bond rating
      • Convert notes to bonds in 2022

Draft Budget Proposal
General Fund Spending Plan: $218,831,646
Difference From Current Year: $  14.1 million (6.9%)
Rollover Expense: $    8.2 million
Additional Programs & Service $    3.6 million
Additional Expenses $    2.3 million
Change to Tax Levy: $     0

Under the proposed spending plan, the tax levy would be at the same level it has been since 2019 and remains the lowest it has been since 2012.

Chart of tax levy history
A public hearing will be held on May 5. The link to attend will be posted on the homepage of our website.   The budget vote and school board election will take place on May 18.  Poll are open noon - 9 p.m.   Click here if you will be voting by absentee ballot. Note:  Governor Cuomo signed legislation that will allow voters who are concerned about voting in person due to COVID-19 to vote by absentee ballot for the 2021-22 budget vote and board of eduction election.   Potential contraction of the COVID-19 virus is considered an "illness" for the purpose of requesting and receiving an absentee ballot for the May 18 vote. 

What happens if voters do not approve the spending proposal?
Dr. Bochniak explained that if the budget that is put out to vote on May 18, is not approved by voters, the board would have three options.  The same budget could be put out to vote a second time, a revised budget could be put out for the second vote, or the board could adopt a contingency or "austerity" budget.

A contingency budget limits expenditures and would prohibit the district from spending any money in certain areas including community use of school facilities without charge, new equipment purchases and rental of office equipment, non-essential maintenance, capital construction projects and capital expenditures, salary increases for non-unionized employees and certain field trips and student supplies.

Link to the video of the meeting


Tax levy remains flat as second budget proposal adds $2.3 million

Long range planning, building assessment & debt service are added to proposal

Interim Superintendent Aaron Bochniak presented a second draft 2021-2022 Budget proposal to the Board of Education on April 21.  The revised spending plan includes the $3.6 million addition of programs, services and staffing that were in the original draft plus an additional $2.3 million to cover building assessment and long range planning costs, and to pay for repair and critical needs of the pool at Schenectady High School.  The spending plan would also provide for an increased principal payment on debt service. The revised proposal of $218,831,646 reflects a $14.1 million or 6.9% spending increase over the current year and still holds the tax levy flat for the third consecutive year.  The Board of Education is expected to adopt a final plan at the next meeting scheduled for April 28.

The 2021-2022 plan is developed with the assumption that there will be a full-return to in-person teaching and learning in September and that all programs and services will be restored to how they were  prior to the pandemic.  All district buildings will be re-opened with their original grade levels, configurations and class sizes.

The budget proposal still calls for 40 new positions to support the addition of a middle school 8-period day, adding attendance deans, decreasing elementary class sizes, expanding capacity of the educational equity and instructional support team and additional focus on restorative practice.  The new positions include the following:

Additionally, $20,000 is budgeted for instructional program materials and professional development.

The assistant director additions are the only newly proposed positions that are administrative.  These leadership positions are in response to identified need for priority focus and expertise in the area of curriculum and instruction.  The addition of these positions will return departmental staffing to what it was prior to the 2020-2021 cuts.

The second draft budget additions, presented on Wednesday evening, are as follows:

  • Transfers to Capital, all of which are eligible for building aid:
    • $75,000 to complete repairs to the Schenectady High School pool ramp

    • $100,000 to replace 23 doors, and to replace and re-key all door locks at Central Park Middle School.  This expense would be eligible for building aid the following year.

    • $250,000 to replace the pool dehumidifer system.  This needs to be done to keep the pool open and operating. 

  • Building Condition Survey
    • $225,000 to conduct a required building condition survey.  This is a review of all district buildings and systems.  It is required that this be done every five years.

  • Long Range Planning
    • $300,000 to conduct long range planning for Phase III Capital Projects.  This includes a demographic study, financial review and pre-referendum study prior to a capital project referendum.  If a referendum is approved, these expenses become part of the capital project and are eligible for building aid.  Meanwhile, the expense must be budgeted.

  • Principal Payment on BANs Renewal
    • $1.6 million for principal payment on the renewal of bond anticipation notes (BANs).  The district is required to pay $255,000 minimum payment but can benefit by making the principal payment, a difference of $1,345,000 to keep district level debt service.  Doing this would:

      • Reduce future debt service payments
      • Lower interest costs
      • Improve district balance sheet
      • Signal credit strength
      • Help bond rating
      • Convert notes to bonds in 2022

Draft Budget Proposal
General Fund Spending Plan: $218,831,646
Difference From Current Year: $  14.1 million (6.9%)
Rollover Expense: $    8.2 million
Additional Programs & Service $    3.6 million
Additional Expenses $    2.3 million
Change to Tax Levy: $     0

Under the proposed plan, the tax levy would be at the same level it has been since 2019 and remains the lowest it has been since 2012.

Chart of tax levy history

The next budget presentation and adoption of a final budget is expected at the Board of Education Meeting on April 28.  A public hearing will be held on May 5.  The budget vote and school board election will take place on May 18.

What happens if voters do not approve the spending proposal?
Dr. Bochniak explained that if the budget that is put out to vote on May 18, is not approved by voters, the board would have three options.  The same budget could be put out to vote a second time, a revised budget could be put out for the second vote, or the board could adopt a contingency or "austerity" budget.

A contingency budget limits expenditures and would prohibit the district from spending any money in certain areas including community use of school facilities without charge, new equipment purchases and rental of office equipment, non-essential maintenance, capital construction projects and capital expenditures, salary increases for non-unionized employees and certain field trips and student supplies.

VIDEO:  You can watch the recording of the meeting by clicking here.



First Draft Budget Proposal is Presented

Plan calls for addition of $3.6 million in programs & services, no change to tax levy

Interim Superintendent Aaron Bochniak presented a first draft of a 2021-2022 Budget proposal to the Board of Education on Wednesday, April 14.  The draft proposal calls for increasing spending by $11.8 million or 5.8 percent, adding $3.6 million worth of programs, services and staffing, and holding the tax levy flat.  

The $216 million proposal restores all service and programming that was in place prior to the pandemic and includes the addition of 40 positions that support district priorities including improving attendance and academic outcomes, and keeping the district's efforts to ensure equity and inclusion at the forefront.  The new positions in the draft proposal include the following:

  • 12 Full-time Positions to support an 8-period day at the middle school level, $1,080,000

    This is to increase equitable opportunities for middle school students.  The current 7-period day does not allow for students who need intervention and/or enrichment, the opportunity to participate in the full academic program with elective classes because it does not fit into the current 7-period day.  An 8-period day would allow all students, including those who receive intervention services, to participate in advanced opportunities.  Increasing the elective opportunities allows us to capture student interest and build upon some of the incredible opportunities that are available in high school.  It gives students an opportunity to try new things that interest them such as the AVID elective and potential possibilities like computer science, health and social emotional learning, fine arts and CTE options.  Adding an 8th period will provide students space to participate in these opportunities in addition to any intervention or enrichment they might need.  The goal is to accelerate all students so that they enter high school ready, engaged and on the path to graduation.

  • 5 Attendance Deans, $450,000

  • 6 Teachers to decrease elementary class sizes, $540,000

  • 5 Assistant Directors in the areas of literacy, ELA, math, science and social studies, $600,000
    This is toward addressing intensifying efforts to prioritize curriculum and instruction. 

  • 5 Full-time Positions that focus on equity, diversity and inclusion, $540,000
    The positions include four specialists focusing on family and community, systems improvement staff engagement, student engagement, and one project manager.

  • 5 Restorative Justice Coaches, $450,000

Other Addition

  • Instructional Program Materials and Professional Development, $20,000

Dr. Bochniak explained that the proposed additions are priorities that actualize the district's vision and values, strategic plan goals and provide multi-tiered systems and supports (MTSS) to minimize achievement gaps created by the pandemic. 

The proposal was built with the assumption that all students and staff will return to in-person teaching and learning, as it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.  All programs and services will be completely restored and district schools will be re-opened with their original grade levels and configurations.

The district is able to add services and programming due to a $10.8 million increase in state Foundation Aid and $1 million increase in other state aid for a total of $11.8 million. The increase is significant toward building a healthy spending plan, not only for adding  but for keeping programs and services that students need intact.  The district relies heavily on the state Foundation Aid.  In fact, it's the largest source of revenue.  Without any increase, the district would have been looking at a gap of approximately $8 million.

$8.2 million of the Foundation Aid increase will cover rollover expenses which includes things such contractual increases, health insurance costs, teacher and employee retirement system increases and other annual increases in expenses.  The additional programs and services added to the proposed spending plan round out the $3.6 million balance.

Also, in large part, due to the significant increase in Foundation Aid, the proposal allows for the tax levy to remain unchanged in 2021-2022.  This, for the second consecutive year, would keep the amount of tax dollars that have to be levied, lower than they were in the years 2012 through 2019.  

New York State has made a promise to fully fund Foundation Aid over the next three years, which is great news for the district.  Dr. Bochniak said that, while that is encouraging, we have to be cautious.  "The only thing that is certain right now is next year," he stressed.  "The only thing we know is what the increase is anticipated and planned to be."  He pointed out that there have been times in the past in which a promise for full funding of Foundation Aid was made and then taken back.  "It's good news to think about that three-year phase-in," he said.  "But, it could change.  It is contingent on the state having the revenue to do that."  

Dr. Bochniak and Board President John Foley both expressed gratitude to the Schenectady community and legislators who have advocated for equitable funding over the last several years.  Mr. Foley said that the people in the community make a difference.  The voices of community members and district parents count heavily.  "This is a significant gain for the children in Schenectady," said Mr. Foley.  "Thank you everybody who participated over the years to get us to this point."  

The draft spending proposal does not account for the $60 million ($15 million per year over the next four years) that will be coming to the district in the form of federal relief aid. The funds, which will be treated in the same way that grant funds are, must be encumbered by 2024.  The district will work on a comprehensive multi-year plan.  These funds are not to be included in the proposed spending plan that will going before voters on May 18.  They are above and beyond and are in response to the impact of COVID-19.

Dr. Bochniak explained that districts don't have specific guidelines about how to get the money and how it can be spent.  He said that learning loss will be addressed and some of the intervention programs and services that will potentially be included are after-school and evening tutoring, summer enrichment, multi-tiered systems and supports, and before and after school programs.  Since these one-time funds that expire in 2024, the district needs to be strategic and cautious.  

"We do have the federal funds that will allow us to do some long term planning, " said Dr. Bochniak.  "We are putting the those on the shelf right now while we focus on next year's general fund spending plan."  

A refined second draft budget will be presented and discussion will resume at the Board of Education Budget Meeting scheduled for Wednesday, April 21 at 7 p.m.



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