#NorthColonieCentralSchoolDistrict #SchoolBudget #Additions #JimFranco #SpotlightNews
COLONIE – The North Colonie School District’s 2018-19 budget will include funding for a school resource officer for the first time, a mental health clinic and upgrades to the athletic training facilities.
The budget, as adopted by the Board of Education, will increase the tax levy by 3.1 percent, which is less than the 3.13 cap imposed by New York state. The tax rate, should voters approve the budget on May 15, would increase 1.9 percent.
That equates to an annual increase of $83.49 for an average single family home assessed at $172,000, according to the district.
The budget focuses on three main points, said Superintendent Joseph Corr, safety and security, mental health and wellness and 21st Century Learning.
While the nuts and bolts of the $111.1 million budget is basic run of the mill, the addition of a school resource officer is a first for North Colonie Schools. The district will share the cost of a having a sworn police officer at the high school campus with the town and there is $40,000 allocated for him or her in the proposed budget.
“We already have an excellent working relationship with the Colonie Police Department but it is time, given the concerns with school safety and security across the country,” Corr said. “It is more than just having a police officer in the school, it is a police officer who has access to all the resources of the school and all the resources of the Police Department. We think he or she will be a valuable asset to North Colonie.”
South Colonie has utilized a School Resource Officer for a number of years, but North Colonie has been hesitant to bring an armed officer on campus on a full time basis. The most recent school shooting in Florida, though, was followed by student protests and walkouts aimed mainly at gun control with an underlying, general message of making schools safer.
On the flip side of that issue, is the mental health and wellness of students in general. Towards that end, Corr said, the district is proposing to team up with Boces and the state and spend $35,000 on a mental health clinic staffed with certified social workers. Corr said the clinic will likely be at the high school, but possibly at one of the centrally located elementary schools. The goal is for it to open in September.
“The space will have to meet state regulations but our aim is to have it available to assist students and families in need,” Corr said.
An extension of that is a $329,000 proposed renovation of the athletic training facilities that was approved by the Board of Education. Most of the work will be completed in-house using maintenance staff and the majority of the cost – $208,000 – will be for new equipment and materials to make the existing space more accommodating to new thoughts and methods of working out.
“We are moving away from the traditional activities like heavy weight machines and are focusing more on lifelong fitness and wellness,” Corr said. “Right now the weight rooms and fitness rooms are overcrowded, there are kids working out in the hallway and you hardly ever see young women in there. Ideally, it would be great if they came out of high school ready to manage their health and wellness for a lifetime.”
The budget also focuses on 21st Century Learning, he said, which is an extension of STEM – Science, Technology Engineering and Math classes – from grades nine through 12 to grades K through 12.
“We are creating a position, with a federal grant, to update our curriculum and make it so students are experiencing more interdisciplinary learning to meet the needs of students in the 21st Century which are different than what our needs were when we were in school,” Corr said.
There is also a new kindergarten teacher with an allocated salary of $78,622, included in the budget to accommodate a projected enrollment increase.
Unlike other superintendents in the area, Corr was relatively pleased with this year’s allocation of state aid. For North Colonie, Foundation Aid, which is the general education aid, went up $330,000 and all other state aid – such as building and transportation – increased by $7,496.
There will be a public hearing on the budget and a meet the candidates night at the Shaker Junior High School auditorium on Wednesday, May 2 at 7 p.m.
Polls are open on Tuesday, May 15 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at each of the district offices located at 91 Fiddlers Lane.
Proposition 2 on the Tuesday, May 15 ballot would allow the district to create a Capital Reserve Fund.
The fund, which is similar to a savings account, would allow the district to set aside up to $10 million to use towards capital improvements such as “general improvements, construction, reconstruction renovations and additions,” according to the district.
Other districts who have similar funds not only allocate a dollar amount to the fund in the annual budget but also add to it when, for example, there is a mild winter and there is money left from snow plowing.
Board of Education
There are four candidates running for two open seats on the Board of Education.
Sandy Pangburn is running for re-election and newcomers Michelle Dischiavo, Alexandra Kane and Timothy O’Connor will be on the ballot.
Board member Patrick Masson opted not to run for another term.
The League of Women Voters will moderate the forum on Wednesday, May 2 and more information on the candidates will be forthcoming in future editions.