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Nisky adopts $75M school budget in 5-2 vote

More than 3 percent tax levy increase within cap, around 80 positions cut

— After several meetings targeted at closing a $4.4 million budget gap, the Niskayuna Board of Education has approved a budget within the tax cap despite some calls to exceed the limit.

The Board of Education on Tuesday, April 17, adopted the 2012-13 budget in a 5-2 vote. The budget calls for a tax levy increase of 3.29 percent and decreases year-to-year spending by more than $1.85 million, or 2.4 percent.

The average home in Niskayuna assessed at $250,000 would see a $144 tax increase. Eighty full-time equivalent staff positions are slated for elimination.

“We started out with a pretty dramatic list of reductions and we have made some pretty significant changes to those reductions as it has become clear where our populations were at the elementary schools, the middle schools and the high school,” Superintendent Susan Salvaggio said.

The board previously looked at Level 1A reductions, which were needed to reach the tax levy limit, and it decided to restore freshman sports and one high school guidance position. Reductions to make up for those changes included a $60,000 reduction in utility expenses and only partial implementation of the district’s technology upgrade plan to save $50,000.

Salvaggio said district officials reevaluated utility expenses and felt comfortable with the reduction.

She said the cost of natural gas is projected to continue to decrease, but there is also reduced energy usage through geo-thermal energy initiatives at the district. Also, the district is looking at entering into a partnership with Monolith Solar Associates, LLC, to install solar panels for little to no cost. She said the solar panels would result in a $30,000 to $50,000 savings by September.

Other Level 1A reductions include one mechanic ($75,000), one speech instructor through retirement ($66,000), textbooks ($45,000), fringe benefits ($41,000) and other reductions that bring the total to $500,000.

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