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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

No Tax Increase Expected for Schenectady Residents in 2024-25 School Budget


SCHENECTADY — The​ Schenectady‌ City School District is ⁤on track ​to maintain its record of​ not increasing⁣ taxes for city residents for the ​seventh​ consecutive year in its upcoming 2024-2025 budget, according to Terry⁢ Gillooley, the⁤ district’s Chief Financial⁢ Officer. He shared this ⁤information during ‌the⁤ school board’s Wednesday night meeting.

Last year, the district presented a budget⁢ of $259.4 million‌ to voters, which also did not result in a ‌property ‍tax increase for ‌local homeowners, marking ⁣the sixth year‍ in a row.

The 2024-2025 school budget will be ‍put to a⁣ vote on May 21.

In a detailed presentation to ‍the school board on Wednesday, Gillooley stated that as the administration works on the new budget,⁤ a tax hike for residents is not ‌anticipated. The district had a tax ​levy of $51.4 million in 2023-2024. Gillooley⁤ assured the ‍board that he would provide them ⁣with the ‍district’s tax ‍cap calculation for 2024-2025⁤ during his next presentation on Feb. 28.

The⁤ district is projected to see an increase in state ‌aid revenue in the new budget cycle. Schenectady is⁢ expected to receive $157.8 million in state Foundation Aid in 2024-2025, marking​ a $3.9 million⁤ increase from ​the ⁤previous year.

The school district is planning to budget for $202.6 million in state aid revenue in the 2024-2025 budget, a 5.2% increase from the previous year.

“This increase ⁢will enable‌ us⁢ to undertake some​ initiatives that we may not have planned for, and also allow us ‌to build up a‍ fund balance⁣ or save money in the current year for next year’s expenditures to balance out the‍ budget,” Gillooley explained.

The state aid projections are based ‌on Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposed state ⁤budget and will⁤ be finalized⁤ in the forthcoming state spending plan.

“We’re developing a budget ​that’s ⁢fiscally responsible,⁤ and mindful of the taxpayers and the amount of money we’re receiving in state aid,” Gillooley added.

Gillooley mentioned that the district will incorporate the $300 ‍million capital project⁢ for building renovations, which district taxpayers approved‍ last May, into the⁢ planning ⁢for the next several budget cycles.

“Although it’s not a part of the budget, but how moving staff around will affect the budget,”⁢ he ⁤said. “What resources may be ⁤needed⁤ additionally when we move people around to work on the buildings that are part of the project.”

Under the capital project plan, which will see the district upgrade ​buildings through 2030, students​ and staff from⁣ Van Corlear, Paige, Lincoln and Keane elementary ‍schools will be housed at the‍ Fulton Building ‍at⁢ various⁢ points during the‌ project as construction work is completed at each school.

The‍ pandemic-era $17 million grant ‌the district received ‍from the federal Coronavirus Response Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act expired last September, while the ⁤district‌ will expend the last of the $41.3 million it received through the American Rescue ⁣Plan Elementary and ​Secondary School Relief Fund by the end of this summer’s student ‌enrichment program.

“The summer program that we ⁤have, we have to make sure ​we⁣ start developing that ⁣into our budget so that we’re​ not relying on grants for those,” Gillooley ⁢advised.

The ​district currently has 82 vacancies among certified staff ⁢and 40 vacancies ​for non-certified positions, with ​another‍ 14 ⁤anticipated certified vacancies from impending retirements.

Gillooley assured that‌ the 2024-2025 budget would maintain the district’s ⁤current staffing levels and programs.

The ​district currently has ⁢9,061 students​ enrolled districtwide from pre-K through grade 12.

“We’re almost 300 more kids than⁤ we ‌were when we finished the last school ⁣year,” Superintendent Anibal Soler, Jr. said‌ during the Wednesday meeting.

Soler is ​set to leave the district⁢ before the school budget vote, with his last day with the district scheduled ⁤for April 30.

Soler will begin his new role⁤ as superintendent of Yonkers Public Schools on May ‍1.

Board of Education President⁢ Bernice‍ Rivera noted during Wednesday’s meeting that‌ a community survey asking residents what they ⁢want their next superintendent to prioritize in the new ‌hire’s first 100 days is available through ⁢Feb. 11 on the district‌ website.

The school board is expected to identify and interview candidates for the post this ‍month.

The district is also preparing ballot propositions that would appear‍ on the May 21 ballot that would incorporate planned construction work at ​Keane and Pleasant‍ Valley ​elementary schools into the $300 million capital project that ⁤was approved ​last spring.

A proposition to purchase⁣ Keane Elementary School from⁤ St. Luke’s Roman Catholic Church ‌for $2 ⁤million was⁤ approved ‍by voters last May, with the new⁤ proposition requesting that a project ⁢to⁤ demolish a portion of⁢ the school building and construct a 36,000-square-foot-addition be added to the capital ‍project.

The district is also seeking voter approval on a proposal to add cafeteria renovations at Pleasant Valley Elementary School after the state ​Child Nutrition Knowledge Center denied funding for ‍a cafeteria addition.

Emily Stanton
Emily Stanton
Emily Stanton, a skillful journalist previously based in Boston, is adept at covering a diverse array of stories. Her thorough and engaging reporting style, honed with a Master's in Journalism from Boston University, focuses on community-relevant stories.
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