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2016-17 budget

Voters approve school budget, Proposition #2 by wide margins

Nearly two-thirds of those who voted May 17 said "yes" to the City School District of Albany's 2016-17 budget proposal as well as a proposal to raise the limit on the district's Capital Reserve Fund.

 

Voters approved the $234 million budget 2,235-1,319, a 63-percent approval rate. There will be no increase in the district's tax levy for 2016-17. Proposition #2 -- to increase the Capital Reserve Fund limit from $8 million to $18 million -- passed 2,276-1,253, or 64 percent. See below or follow this link for more information about Proposition #2.

 

The 2016-17 budget will continue to support all academic, social-emotional and extracurricular programs and services for the district’s 9,500 students. It also will invest in new supports throughout the district, with particular focus on the early childhood (prekindergarten-grade 2) and elementary levels, social-emotional supports, special education, English as a new language and school security.

 

The board voted unanimously to approve the proposal April 7. Click here to download the budget presentation from that meeting; the board adopted that proposal without any additional changes.

 

“We believe this budget proposal achieves the important balance of investing in the programs that are critical to our efforts to significantly increase achievement for all of our students while also maintaining the fiscal responsibility that our taxpayers need and deserve,” Board President Kenneth M. Bruce said before the May 17 vote.

 

It is the second time in six years that the district has proposed a budget with zero tax-levy increase, and the fourth time in six years that the increase has been less than 1 percent. The district’s average tax-levy increase over the past six years is 1.05 percent. During that time, the district’s enrollment has grown by about 1,000 students, or 12 percent.

 

The district’s 2016-17 tax cap was less than one-tenth of 1 percent (0.09 percent).

 

The budget includes $7.1 million in new state aid for 2016-17. District and board representatives were busy throughout March meeting with state leaders to advocate for additional funding for critical programs and services, and the district is grateful for the additional support the state provided for the coming school year.

 

The budget also includes an investment of $7.15 million from the district’s fund balance and reserves. This is an increse of $2.55 million over the current year and includes $1.5 million to accommodate the state Board of Regents action in mid-April to allow the Brighter Choice charter elementary schools to add fifth grade for 2016-17.

 

The district already had planned for charter expenses to increase by about $1.4 million with the opening of a new KIPP elementary school in September. Total charter expenses will increase by about $3 million in 2016-17 with the addition of the Brighter Choice expansion.

 

Other new expenditures for 2016-17 include:

  • $1.7 million in state-mandated staffing increases in the Special Education and English as a New Language (ENL) departments

  • $1.2 million in investments in pre-K-2 literacy, including:

    • 3.5 reading teachers

    • Six coaches trained in Response to Intervention to provide K-2 reading support for students and coaching/training support for teachers

    • Five teaching assistants in the district’s five Priority elementary schools. One each assigned to Arbor Hill Elementary, Giffen Memorial Elementary, Schuyler Achievement Academy, Sheridan Preparatory Academy and Thomas O’Brien Academy of Science and Technology (TOAST)

    • Increased contractual support to allow the district’s prekindergarten partners to attract and retain more high-quality teachers

    • Establishment of a director-level administrator to manage the district’s growing Early Childhood Department (currently a coordinator-level position)

  • $510,000 for additional social-emotional supports K-12:

    • Three behavioral specialists

    • 2.5 school psychologists

    • One social worker

Click here to download the full line-by-line 2016-17 budget proposal that the board adopted April 7.

 

The district’s state aid also includes $2.7 million to support the development of community schools models. However, the state has yet to release specific guidance on how this money can be spent and the district is awaiting that information before moving forward with specific recommendations for staffing and services in this area.

 

Proposition #2

In addition to the 2016-17 budget, Albany voters also approved a proposition allowing the City School District of Albany to set aside more money in its Capital Reserve Fund, a savings account for long-term building projects. The fund is intended to help offset the tax impact of future construction projects and ongoing building maintenance.

 

Voters approved creation of the fund in 2013 and capped the amount at $8 million. Proposition #2 increased the amount that can be set aside to $18 million.

 

The district operates 21 buildings that house more than 11,000 students and staff during the school year – buildings that require continuing upkeep. The district will add to the Capital Reserve Fund from a variety of sources, including school district reserves. Additional voter approval will be required in the future before the district can use money from the fund.

 

As an example, voters in 2015 approved the use of money from the Capital Reserve Fund for facilities improvements at 14 buildings throughout the district. The district is matching $4.9 million from the Capital Reserve Fund with state aid to complete $14 million in project with no additional impact on taxes.

 

For more information about Proposition #2, contact the district Business Office at 475-6020.

 

Get informed. Then get involved.

The City School District of Albany's annual budget-development process includes dozens of public meetings throughout the winter and spring, and the opportunity for all community groups to have a district representative provide a presentation about the proposed budget in April and May. In addition to budget discussions at each board meeting throughout February, March and early April, the 2016-17 budget-development process once again included two January budget workshops, and school-based workshops at all 16 schools in February.

 

The Board of Education approved the 2016-17 budget-development process and calendar at its Nov. 19 meeting.

 

Here are key dates and milestones in the district's budget-development process:

We also make frequent use of this website and social media tools such as School News Notifier, Facebook and Twitter to provide information and updates. We encourage you to sign up today. Use the respective links to sign up if you're not already registered.

 

Please call Director of Communications Ron Lesko at 475-6065 or send an e-mail if you have any questions or would like additional information.

 

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