BH-BL school district adopts $53.4M budget

The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake School District Board of Education unanimously voted to adopt a nearly $53.4 million budget at its Tuesday, April 7, meeting, a 2.16 percent increase from this year's budget.

Assuming that state aid is restored to the district, the budget would result in a 2.7 percent increase in the tax levy. District officials were quick to point out such a tax hike would be the lowest levy increase in four decades, though the tax rates in each of the district's four towns will fluctuate with any changes in assessment.

We find ourselves trying to do our best for students and the community. We believe this budget does both, said Superintendent Jim Schultz.

The budget makes more than $1 million in staffing cutbacks. An elementary teacher and high school special education full-time position will be eliminated in addition to numerous cutbacks that will result in reduced hours and salaries for many instructional and support personnel.

"In looking at a loss of $1 million plus in staff reductions, there certainly is going to be impacts across the district," said Schultz. "What we've tried to do is spread that across the district so it doesn't decimate any one program."

At Charlton Heights Elementary, for example, a fifth-grade teacher will be eliminated, resulting in an estimated class size of 26 students next year. Class sizes elsewhere might be slightly larger than they were this year, and students might receive less specialized instruction in areas like art.

Other cutbacks include the elimination of the diving team and fourth-level soccer and baseball teams. Summer school teachers will also suffer a cut in pay, the purchase of furniture and library materials will be scaled back, and the district will be sending sports teams to fewer contests. Non-staff cutbacks will amount to $230,000.

District residents will get their chance to vote on the budget on May 19. If they reject the proposal, officials will head back to the drawing board. If it is defeated twice, a contingency budget will be put in place that caps the budget-to-budget increase at 4 percent, as per state regulations.

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