On Tuesday, April 21, 2015, the North Colonie Central School District board of education adopted a proposed $102.7 million budget for the 2015-16 school year. The proposed budget, which preserves all existing student programming, increases spending by 1.36 percent over the current year’s budget and carries a proposed tax levy increase of 2.98 percent. With this increase, the levy would be equal to the maximum allowable tax levy under the state’s property tax law, meaning approval by a simple majority is required for budget passage.
The proposed budget includes funding to an enhanced transfer to capital fund to accomplish necessary improvements to district buildings, the implementation of a full-day kindergarten program, the expansion of the English as New Language program per state mandates, and an expansion of the fundamental Math and ELA programs at Shaker Junior High School.
The proposed budget includes a full-day kindergarten program for all children entering the district in the fall of 2015. A full-day kindergarten program would double instruction hours for students from three to six. In addition, students would have increased opportunities in the arts and physical education, and more significant growth in reading, writing and math. Currently, New York State is offering a one-time conversion aid to help school districts with the implementation of the program. North Colonie is slated to receive $611,210 in state aid, and anticipates that number will increase once final enrollment numbers are submitted to the New York State Education Department. While that money is only available for one year, the district does not project to incur a lot of additional costs, because of re-organization of staff, re-appropriation of resources, and savings from the elimination of mid-day runs for bus drivers. Five elementary teachers, as well as an additional special education teacher will be added by repurposing existing staff to support the new model.
English as a New Language (ENL)
A new state mandate requires that all districts and schools engage all English Language Learners in instruction that is grade-appropriate, academically rigorous, and aligned with the New York State and Common Core Learning Standards. The mandate specifies that every teacher must be prepared to teach academic language and challenging content to all students, including English Language Learners. In an effort to meet these mandates, and in addition to hiring an English as a New Language teacher, North Colonie has budgeted $25,000 to provide support for current teaching staff to attain ENL certification. The certification would allow them to deliver services to new ENL learners directly within their classrooms.
Shaker Junior High School Math & English Language Arts programs
The current “G level program” will be eliminated and replaced with a revised Fundamentals Program. All math and English teachers will teach their own fundamental class, resulting in 20 additional minutes of instruction on an everyday basis for those students enrolled.
The district’s goal was to craft a budget that not only aligns spending and uses savings gained from attrition to fund educational priorities, but also puts the district in a position where it can continue on a path to sustainability in the coming years.
“To achieve savings, the district has taken a significant administrative reorganization and captured savings in actual and impending retirements,” said Superintendent Joseph Corr. “North Colonie has sustained itself fiscally through the use of attrition to achieve savings, therefore not impacting programs or class size.”
Corr also says the district anticipates no use of fund balance this year.
“The 2015-16 budget represents the outstanding collective efforts of our faculty, staff, administration, Board of Education, and community to provide a budget that is fiscally sound and yet expands opportunities for children to grow and develop socially emotionally and academically.”