Bunrt Hills-Ballston Lake school budget talks begin

School taxpayers will have two more opportunities to discuss the proposed $52,892,719 Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake 2008-09 school budget.

A community budget forum is set for Wednesday, March 26, at the Ballston Town Hall.

The school is considering the public's input in adopting the budget, but according to Assistant Superintendent Jacqueline St. Onge, the final budget is a ways off.

The reality is, though, that we will see a number of changes in both our projected expenses and our state aid before the budget is complete, said Jacqueline St. Onge, assistant superintendent for support services.

Taxpayers will also have a chance to comment on the proposed budget Tuesday, April 1, at the district's finance committee meeting in the high school library.

The $52,892,719 preliminary budget, based on funds needed to continue existing programs for the next year, is up 5.3 percent from last year's $50,243,630 budget.

In addition to the preliminary budget, the Board of Education is also considering 10 proposals from school administrators to create or expand programs. The proposals total $427,991.

Last week district Superintendent Jim Schultz issued recommendations to the Board of Education, which will vote on a proposed budget Tuesday, April 8, before it goes to a public vote Tuesday, May 20.

The superintendent's recommendations would reduce the budget by $602,975.

Schultz's $52,289,744 recommended budget would be a 4.1 percent increase from last year's budget. The board is considering Schultz's recommended budget, which combine proposals for new or expanded programs, and the preliminary budget.

The school's largest expenditure is staffing, which accounts for 76 percent of the preliminary budget increase, according to a press release from the district. Schultz said this is not a surprise because the school's key resource is people.

Schultz recommended that the board could reduce professional staff by 1.8 full-time equivalents based on next year's estimated enrollment. He also said retiring teachers will reduce staffing costs because they can be replaced by new teachers on the low end of the salary scale. These measures would save the district an estimated $350,000 annually.

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