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School budget vote is Tuesday, May 16 at Goodrich Building

| May 3, 2017

Residents will vote on a $107.2 million budget proposal, elect one of two candidates to the Board of Education and decide a capital project referendum on Tuesday, May 16. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Goodrich Building, 91 Fiddlers Lane in Latham.

At its meeting on April 5, the Board of Education adopted a $107,244,155 school budget proposal for the 2017-18 school year. If approved, the budget would increase spending by 1.8 percent or $1.9 million and would result in an estimated tax rate increase of less than 1 percent.

The estimated tax rate increase of 0.94 percent equates to 24 cents per thousand of assessed value or $40 on the median assessed value home. For the third consecutive year, continued growth in taxable values due to new residential and commercial construction will keep the individual tax rate increase lower than the projected tax levy increase of 2.47 percent. The tax levy meets the district’s allowable limit under the state’s property tax cap law, meaning the district will need a simple majority vote (50 percent plus one vote) for budget approval.

The proposed budget supports all current academic programs and student services, provides for some new initiatives, and includes adding positions primarily to meet the needs of the special education and English as a New Language (ENL) programs, both of which have increasing enrollment.

The addition of special education staff includes 4.5 full-time equivalent (FTE) teachers, 1 teaching assistant and 5 classroom aides, as well as a part-time nurse (LPN).

New initiatives include accelerated learning opportunities in math and science for all seventh-grade students and new social studies electives for Shaker High School students. Redesigning the math and science programs at the junior high school and restructuring the high school social studies courses will be achieved by reallocating existing resources creating new opportunities for students in a mostly budget-neutral way.

The proposed budget also includes the addition of a student assistance counselor at the high school to help students identify stressors and resolve social-emotional issues that can jeopardize academic success or lead to poor decisions.

“Our goals with this budget are to sustain or enhance the educational programs that support the needs of our students at a time when there is significant growth in enrollment, and present a budget that is fiscally responsible and within the tax cap,” said Superintendent of Schools Joseph Corr.

At a glance:

  • 2017-2018 Budget (proposed):
    $107,244,155
  • Spending increase:
    $1,905,886
    1.8 percent
  • 2017-2018 tax levy (proposed):
    $82,446,594
  • Tax levy increase:
    2.47 percent
  • Tax rate increase:
    0.94% or $0.24 per $1000 of assessed value

Proposition 2: Capital Project

Voters will also decide a proposed $106.3 million capital project that will address significant enrollment growth at the elementary level, enhance security at all schools and update learning spaces that will equip students with the 21st-century learning skills that are necessary for success post-high school.

The proposed project focuses primarily on alleviating the ongoing enrollment crunch at the elementary level where some classrooms have reached or surpassed capacity in certain buildings. The proposed capital project would build space to accommodate growing enrollment, including additions and renovations work at the elementary schools and the conversion of the Shaker Junior High School to a 6-8 middle school. The proposal also provides security updates for all eight school buildings, creates STEM learning spaces, and includes installation of a synthetic turf field.

If voters approve the referendum, the resulting tax rate impact would be 0.49 percent, which translates to a tax increase on a median assessed home of $21.32 (with enhanced aid) or an increase of 1.49 percent, $64.64 (without enhanced aid).

Extended polling hours, one site

The district will offer extended voting hours on Tuesday, May 16. Voting will take place from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Goodrich Building on Fiddlers Lane. Directions

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