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Board of Education Adopts 2016-17 School Budget Proposal

April 12, 2016
 
A student stands beside her mother, who is completing a ballot. The Queensbury Board of Education adopted a $59,196,134 budget proposal for the 2016-17 school year during its meeting on Monday, April 11. The school budget would maintain current programs and services for students as well as the current staffing level. Eligible residents will vote on the proposal on Tuesday, May 17, from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Queensbury Elementary School Gymnasium, 431 Aviation Rd.
 
The 2016-17 budget is $2,471,864 more than the budget for the 2015-16 school year, an increase of 4.4 percent. This reflects increasing expenses related to instruction and benefits (73 percent of the total budget) as well as debt service (12 percent of the total budget). The debt service increase next year will allow the district to save more than $200,000 in interest costs by beginning debt payments for the 2014 infrastructure capital project sooner than originally planned. That project will still have no additional local tax impact, though, when old debt retires and state building aid reimbursements come in.
 
“This budget will allow us to continue to offer innovative programs, to tailor our curriculum to meet state standards and to provide the supports necessary to address our students’ diverse spectrum of needs,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Douglas W. Huntley.
 
State aid would fund about 40 percent of the proposed school budget, with a $1.8 million aid increase expected next year following the recent adoption of a 2016-17 state budget. The enacted state budget finally put an end to the Gap Elimination Adjustment for Queensbury Union Free School District, a longtime priority of the Board of Education.
 
“The GEA’s end has allowed us to balance our budget without reductions to our education program. Our community’s advocacy led to this outcome, and for that, I am truly grateful. Our work may not be over yet━there are still equity issues with the Foundation Aid formula━but Queensbury is in a much better place today than six years ago,” said Huntley.
 
Local property taxes would fund less than 55 percent of the proposed school budget. The school tax levy, or total amount of money collected from local property owners, would increase by $913,306. This 2.91 percent increase is tax cap compliant, so budget approval requires a simple majority vote of 50 percent plus one.
 
The district is awaiting more information from the town on local property assessments before providing an estimated school tax rate for the amount of taxes due per $1,000 of assessed property value. 
  
Also on the Ballot
 
During the budget vote, voters will consider a second proposition for $944,405 to purchase six 72-passenger school buses and two 42-passenger school buses to replace eight aging buses. The purchase would maintain the district’s current fleet size and 10-year replacement cycle, which is based on the typical lifespan of a school bus. State transportation aid would cover 65 percent of the principal and interest costs over the five-year finance period.
 
Voters will also elect a candidate to fill one open seat on the Board of Education, currently filled by board member Kathleen Holser. Those interested in submitting a board candidate petition should call (518) 824-5604 during the week between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to receive a candidate packet. The deadline for all candidates' petitions is Monday, April 18.
 
Learn more
 
The annual school budget hearing is scheduled for Monday, May 9, at 6:30 p.m. in the Queensbury Elementary School Cafeteria.
 
Visit the budget Web page to learn more or look for the budget issue of the Connections district newsletter in early May.