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Goals, Challenges Shape 2017-18 School Budget

March 1, 2017

 

The annual school budget proposal is the only government spending plan in New York on which residents can vote, this year on May 16.

 

Before the vote, the Queensbury Board of Education and district officials must plan how to achieve their budget goals while addressing the challenges affecting expenses and revenue for Queensbury Union Free School District.

 

“We start with our goals in mind: maintaining a strong instructional program, a cost-effective education, tax rate stability and the long-term fiscal health of our schools. But each budget year brings its own unique challenges,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Douglas W. Huntley.

 

The biggest challenge: The district must propose a balanced budget, but anticipated expenses for 2017-18 currently exceed anticipated revenue.

 

One contributing factor is the rising cost of health insurance. The benefit currently makes up 15.9 percent of school budget expenses, but it is expected to consume 18.4 percent of the budget by 2018.

 

Another contributing factor is insufficent revenue. The district is facing a negative tax levy cap (-5.44 percent) for the first time, and with it, the potential for a nearly $2.7 million budget shortfall. Meanwhile, the governor proposed only a $755,818 increase in state aid for Queensbury school operations next year.

 

Assistant Superintendent for Business Scott Whittemore discussed the projected budget shortfall during a Board of Education budget workshop on Monday, Feb. 27. View his presentation.

 

“Staffing adjustments due to declining enrollment at the middle school will help, but fully addressing our revenue shortage and meeting our goals may require exceeding the tax cap,” said Huntley.

 

The Board of Education expects to adopt a budget proposal in April. For more on the school budget, visit the district's budget website at www.queensburyschool.org/budget.