Residents to vote May 17 on proposed 2022-23 budget

District residents will vote on a proposed $33.7 million budget for the 2022-23 school year on Tuesday, May 17. The Board of Education unanimously adopted the proposed budget during its April 12 meeting.

The school budget proposal increases spending 10.7% or $3.27 million more than the current-year budget – and will allow the district to maintain existing staff levels, programs and services, as well as expand support and opportunities for students. The spending increase is offset by a $2.74 million increase in Foundation Aid, and another $472,000 in expense-driven aids for BOCES services, transportation and other such expenditures.

Under the proposed plan, the tax levy would increase an estimated 2.04%, which is significantly below the district’s maximum allowable limit. Because the tax levy increase remains below the district’s allowable limit of 3.59% as determined by the state’s tax “cap” formula, a simple majority of voters (50% + 1) is needed to pass the budget.

Budget prioritizes student needs; rebuilds programs, expands opportunities

The district’s proposed budget prioritizes student support districtwide with the addition of a full-time psychologist or social worker, and a full-time English as a New Language (ENL) teacher. These two positions would be shared equally between both schools. It also invests in two long-term substitute teachers to allow for the maintenance of smaller class sizes at the elementary level.

Staffing positions that were reduced or eliminated from prior budgets would be restored to meet educational needs. This includes a library aide position at the elementary school, and full-time teaching positions in art, physical education, social studies and special education at the junior-senior high school.

The proposed budget would restore the bowling program, establish a new girls wrestling program, and expand the new e-sports team that was introduced during the second half of the current school year. It would also provide for upgrades to athletic equipment and new uniforms with newly branded district sports logos.

Under the proposed budget, a new math program would be piloted in grades K-8 and instructional coaching for K-12 teachers would increase. It also would provide for a replacement cycle for Chromebooks to support the district’s 1:1 technology program, and for additional upgrades to building security.

Bus lease proposition

District residents will vote on a proposed 5-year bus lease proposition that would allow for the district to bid for the lease of three new buses at a cost of $58,500 per year for the next five years to continue to provide the current level of transportation services for students. The present lease on the district’s three buses is set to expire June 30.

Board of Education election

On May 17, district residents will have an opportunity to cast their ballots to fill two open seats on the Board of Education. One seat is for a full three-year term, the other will complete the two years remaining on a term following the recent resignation of a board member.

The following two candidates have submitted petitions to run for the Board of Education: Sheri Senecal is seeking her fourth term, while Brian White is seeking a first term. The candidate who receives the highest number of votes will serve the three-year term, and the second highest vote-getter will serve the two-year term.

School Budget Vote

The school budget vote and board of education election will take place Tuesday, May 17 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at two polling locations: Watervliet Elementary School and the Watervliet Elks Lodge. More information will be shared in the annual budget newsletter that is mailed to all district residences prior to the vote.

Public Budget Hearing

District residents are invited to learn more about the proposed 2022-23 school budget during a public budget hearing on Tuesday, May 10 during the regular Board of Education meeting.

Budget development

The budget development process began in January with department and building-level meetings to identify student needs and discussions about re-establishing programs and personnel with increased Foundation Aid. Throughout the process, district leaders remained mindful of the need to plan for the rising costs of energy, fuel, healthcare and other goods and services impacted by inflation. As part of the process, district leaders presented three budget workshops in March and April to gather community feedback before making their recommendations to the Board of Education.