Community offers budget input

group of seated people listen to business administrator presenting at forum

More than a dozen local residents, students and staff offered their ideas and feedback on the developing 2019-20 budget at a Community Budget Forum held the evening of March 6 in the elementary cafeteria.

Hosted by the Board of Education, the forum began with a welcome by Superintendent David Blanchard, followed by an overview of the tentative 2019-20 school year budget, as it stands on March 6, by Business Administrator Sarah Blood.

Overview of tentative budget

Blood explained that the $24,445,059 tentative budget would be a 2.61 percent increase over the voter-approved 2018-19 budget. The majority – 69 percent – of the increase is for employee salaries and employee health and prescription insurance.

The state’s tax levy limit formula allows the district to increase its tax levy by 3.56 percent, or $300,605, without requiring a supermajority approval (at least 60%) by residents when they vote on May 21, 2019.

Schoharie would receive an estimated $11,891,788 in state aid for next year under the governor’s budget proposal for foundation aid and expense-driven aid (building, transportation, BOCES).  

With that aid, the tentative budget has a revenue gap of – $208,423. Budget reductions and additional allocation of available fund balance in that amount would be necessary to balance the budget if additional state aid is not provided by the governor and legislature.

How SCS saves money

Blood noted that to contain expenses in recent years, the district has:

  • Self-funded medical prescriptions
  • Streamlined health care administrative costs
  • Self-funded workers’ compensation trust
  • Energy management program
  • Grants for educational program

Small group discussions

Following Blood’s presentation, forum participants broke into smaller groups for facilitated discussions facilitated by BOCES communications specialists. They provided their input, insights and feedback on questions about:

  • What they value most about the programs and opportunities at SCS
  • Would they support a school budget that makes cuts to stay within
  • Schoharie’s tax levy limit or agree to exceeding the limit
  • What programs or services they would protect or reduce
  • If there are any educational needs that they feel are not being met, and if so, how the district could potentially fulfill those needs.

What happens with forum feedback

The community’s input on their values and priorities, including those expressed at tonight’s forum, will help guide the Board of Education and the district in setting budgetary priorities.

As the district develops a budget, the objective is:
“To sustain the fiscal capacity of the school district in order to adequately provide for the programs and services for our students, not only for next year, but for years well into the future.”

How to stay updated and involved

  • Visit the budget webpage for news and updates
  •  Attend the following Board of Education meetings:
    March 21: Meeting, 7 p.m., Elementary School Cafeteria
    April 17: Meeting, 7 p.m., High School Cafeteria
    May 7: Meeting and Public Hearing, 6 p.m., High School Cafeteria
  • Vote on the budget:
    May 21, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m., High School Library Lobby