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BALLSTON SPA: District budget vote nears

The Ballston Spa school board held a public hearing on Wednesday, May 2, to allow comment on the proposed $62.2 million budget. No residents spoke up at the hearing, but Assistant Superintendent of Business Brian Sirianni discussed the budget process and identified the areas of increased spending.

In developing the budget, several important initiatives were addressed, said Sirianni. He said first was addressing safety and security needs, as well as facility maintenance. Included in this budget is funding for new security camera systems in all school buildings and staff to occupy front-desk stations at the main entrance to each building. Two custodial positions have been added, along with additional cleaning equipment.

A second initiative, said Sirianni, is addressing the drop-out rate in the district. A new BOCES program will provide instruction to at-risk students in a specialized setting.

The district has also included an additional staff member to assist in the required data collection and analysis for state and federal programs.

Funding has been provided to add a guidance counselor at the high school, four teaching positions to address possible enrollment increases and students with special needs, and a part-time position to supervise community and district events held on district grounds. Plans call for an expanded eighth-grade social studies curriculum and physical education curriculum, completed surveys of at-risk behaviors, and two new jobs that will minimize repair time for computers.

"Like all school districts across the country, Ballston Spa's budget is primarily composed of costs associated with teaching and support staff," said Sirianni. "The largest factor in the budget increase is related to current and proposed staff."

Residents will also vote on several other propositions, including the purchase of school buses and vehicles to fund the 10-year bus replacement plan. The district has developed a plan in which buses are replaced about every 10 years. This year, voters are asked to approve up to $916,000 in spending with about 73 percent of that cost being reimbursed by the state.

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