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Board of Education adopts 2017-18 school budget proposal

April 13, 2017

 

On Monday, April 10, the Queensbury Board of Education adopted a $62,831,747 budget proposal for the 2017-18 school year. Queensbury Union Free School District residents will vote on the proposal on Tuesday, May 16, from 10 a.m. - 8:30 p.m. in the Queensbury Elementary School Gymnasium, 431 Aviation Rd.

 

The May ballot will include a $700,000 proposition to purchase two 42-passenger buses and four 72-passenger buses, which would replace six older buses and maintain a 10-year replacement cycle.

 

Voters also will elect candidates to fill three seats on the Queensbury Board of Education. Two seats are for full five-year terms, and one seat is for a partial one-year term. The lowest vote-getter will fill the seat for a partial term.

 

Education and Fiscal Goals Shape Budget

The school board and district leaders developed the 2017-18 budget with three goals in mind:

  • Maintain a strong instructional program.
  • Maintain tax rate stability from year to year.
  • Provide a cost-effective education that maintains the district’s long-term fiscal health.

“Our guiding focus is always how to maintain a program that prepares students for success in life. The challenge, though, is how to balance that focus with respect for the needs of our tax base. I believe this budget does that,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Douglas W. Huntley.

 

The proposed budget preserves the programs and services currently provided in Queensbury schools with a spending increase of $3,635,613 or 6.14 percent. Contributing in part to the increase are contractual obligations for salaries and benefits (69.6 percent of budget) and debt service payments (12.5 percent of budget).

 

Strategies Reduce Costs

Salaries and benefits costs in the proposed budget reflect the reduction of five staff positions next year through attrition. That brings the district total to 91 staff positions reduced since 2009 in response to enrollment changes as well as fiscal pressures.

 

Debt service costs reflect a plan to make both principal and interest payments on the high school renovation project, as opposed to just interest payments. “Paying down the principal on the debt allows us to save long term on the project,” said Assistant Superintendent for Business Scott Whittemore.

 

The project will have no additional local tax impact, though, with the retirement of old debt and state building aid reimbursements.

 

Some other strategies helping to reduce expenses include restrictions on new spending in the last three months of the 2016-17 school year, avoiding $2.5 million in energy costs since 2010 through an energy savings program and continuing to pursue and win grants to support innovative programs.

 

District Remains Below Cap

State aid will fund 40 percent of the proposed budget, with a $1.59 million aid increase.

 

Local property taxes will fund 53 percent of the proposed budget, with an estimated $933,378 increase in the school tax levy (i.e., total amount of money collected from local property owners). This 2.89 percent increase is below the district’s tax levy cap, so budget approval by voters requires a simple majority vote of 50 percent plus one.

 

It is estimated that a property with the average full-value assessment of $210,000 would see an additional $95 in school taxes next year.

 

Whittemore discussed these details of the 2017-18 school budget proposal during a presentation to the Board of Education on April 10. Download his presentation (PDF).