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School Budget Vote on May 15

May 2, 2018 - Featured in Connections budget issue


Tables, chairs, signs, artwork, ballot machines and privacy booths are set out in a gym for the budget vote.  Queensbury Union Free School District residents will vote on a $63,309,837 budget proposal for the 2018-19 school year on Tuesday, May 15, from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Queensbury Elementary School Gymnasium, 431 Aviation Rd.


Under the proposal, a 0.76 percent increase in spending would maintain the K-12 education program for Queensbury students next year.


After considering the budget proposal, residents will vote on a $488,740 proposition to purchase one 72-passenger school bus and three 42-passenger wheelchair buses. This would allow the district to replace four aging buses and maintain a 10-year replacement cycle, based on the typical lifespan of a school bus.


Voters also will elect candidates to fill two seats on the Queensbury Board of Education. Incumbents Amy Molloy and Michael Shea, Ph.D., are running for re-election to the Board of Education.


Program Expansions, Contracts, Cost Controls Shape Budget

The 2018-19 school budget is $478,090 more than the budget for the current school year, which is an increase of less than one percent.


The proposed budget supports, and in some cases expands, existing programs and services for students. For example, Queensbury will offer more International Baccalaureate and Project Lead the Way courses at the high school next year while continuing to expand its PLTW pre-engineering curriculum districtwide. At the elementary level, the Readers Workshop program will have a new phonics curriculum, and first-graders will have one-to-one Chromebook access, up from two-to-one access.


“This budget maintains instructional quality and stability for the school community. It also incorporates long-range planning to bring the district to a position of greater financial strength,” said Assistant Superintendent for Business Scott Whittemore.


Expense categories seeing the greatest increase are salaries and state-mandated retirement contributions, but the district will achieve some savings by reducing five to seven staff positions through retirements and attrition. These reductions will allow staffing levels to better reflect a decline in student enrollment.


Health insurance costs also will remain flat next year due to negotiated savings from increased employee contribution rates and a lower-cost base health insurance plan.


“We use a variety of strategies to control costs, and certainly thoughtful contractual settlements by the Board of Education is one of them,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Douglas W. Huntley. “Employees agreeing to concessions in healthcare will help blunt the impact of rising costs in other mandated and contractual areas.”


Budget Complies with Cap

Next year, state aid will support about 38 percent of the cost of the Queensbury education program. The district was allotted a $374,695 or 2.5 percent increase in Foundation Aid, but a reduction in building aid reimbursements will mean a net decline in overall state aid of about $1 million or -4.1 percent.


After factoring in all other revenue sources, local property taxes cover 54 percent of the proposed school budget. The school tax levy, or total amount of money collected from local property owners, would increase by $966,998. This 2.91 percent increase complies with the district’s tax cap, so budget approval requires a simple majority vote of 50 percent plus one.