Third time's the charm for South Colonie school budget

The South Colonie Central School District has issued a third draft of the district's proposed budget, with Superintendent of Schools Jonathan Buhner saying this draft is close to, if not exactly, the budget the board will adopt on Tuesday, April 21.

The third draft calls for an $88,610,700 budget with an estimated budget-to-budget increase over last year's $88.2 million budget of about .38 percent.

The tax levy increase associated with the proposed 2009-2010 budget is 1.92 percent over last year's $61.157 million tax levy, or a $62.331 million tax levy for this year. The tax rate for the three municipalities the district collects taxes from, South Colonie, Guilderland and Niskayuna, will be unknown until July, according to the district's communications coordinator, John Noetzel.

We've really worked hard this year to keep the levy down low, said Buhner.

According to Buhner, the district was expecting to lose $2.5 million from a deficit reduction assessment that was part of the New York state budget, and an additional $180,000 for special education unfunded mandates. But as of the passing of the state budget the first week in April, Buhner said, that funding will no longer be taken from the district.

Buhner added the district will be forced to make some cuts, however, as it will not accrue any additional state aid.

"Now aid is essentially flat," he said. "And the additional aid won't come until the 2013-2014 school year." Buhner said the district is not losing additional money, but still does not have any extra money to spend.

In draft three, this is represented by a series of reductions and adjustments, which are as follows: a savings of $320,334 with the elimination of Energy Performance Debt Service; a $217,957 reduction in total debt service, including the savings of $600,000 that will come from unused capital project funds to reduce overall debt services; a $60,000 elimination of an administrative internship position; $73,000 cut in teaching assistant positions; $225,000 in savings with the elimination of 10 temporary monitor positions throughout the district; $955,000 saved with the elimination of 17 teaching positions K-12; $30,000 saved through the elimination of an operations and maintenance vehicle; $10,000 saved with a reduction in interscholastic athletic expenses due to rule changes with the New York State High School Athletic Association, which decreases travel costs and expenses for officials; $30,000 in savings from the reduction of extra classroom assignments at the high school; a $10,000 reduction in summer part-time clerical support; a $350,000 reduction in the New York Teacher's Retirement System rate/expense for 2009-2010; $275,000 reduced by limiting the use of the reserve fund to reduce costs of workers compensation insurance, tax certioraris and unemployment insurance; a $30,000 reduction of mid-day transportation expenses (this will come with the transition to full-day kindergarten in all five elementary buildings); a $50,000 savings with the elimination of one social worker position; a $39,000 reduction in energy costs at the high school after transitioning the library's heat from electric to hot water; $11,400 saved with the elimination of Lisha Kill administrative aides; $30,000 saved with the elimination of one clerical position; a $60,500 reduction in instructional and transportation equipment; and an undetermined amount of money to be saved with the restricted use of air conditioning.

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