District Voters to Weigh in on Proposed 2024-25 Budget on May 21

Schoharie Central School District residents will vote on a $27.6 million proposed budget for the 2024-25 school year.

The fiscal plan has an overall increase of 2.99 percent – or $804,059 – from the current year.

Under the proposed budget, which will be voted on by district residents from noon to 8 p.m., on Tuesday, May 21, the tax levy would change by 2.45 percent. This meets the state mandated tax levy limit, or “tax cap,” and equates to $208,323 more than the previous year. The tax levy is the overall amount raised from taxes throughout the entire district.

While this tax levy increase is larger than in recent years, it is still below the rate of inflation. This is largely due to a smaller increase in state aid over what was received last year, as well as increased costs in the area of out-of-district student placements, health insurance and employee benefits.

Voting will be held at the Jr./Sr. High School gym, which can be accessed by the set of doors there. Voters will be asked to elect two board of education members and weigh in on several propositions. A public hearing on the proposed budget is set for Tuesday, May 7 at 7 p.m. in the Jr./Sr. High School Conference Room.

“The goal of this proposed budget is to continue to place our students as a priority, while maintaining fiscal responsibility to district taxpayers,” Superintendent David Blanchard said. “We were faced with the difficult situation of not receiving a state aid increase. This year our district was held flat regarding state Foundation Aid compared to the previous year. If this funding trend on the part of New York State continues, the district will be put in the position of having deep cuts to programs in future years.”

State aid accounts for about 50 cents of every dollar spent by Schoharie CSD.
Increased costs to the district projected for next year include $633,967 for employee benefits; $169,994 in debt service payments; $102,051 in BOCES services; and $388,000 in increased tuition costs for students who need out-of-district placement.

“Over the course of the last three school years, 20 students have moved into the district in need of outplaced special education services,” Mr. Blanchard said.

There are no cuts proposed for student academic and extracurricular programming.

New York State Education Law requires that school districts present balanced budgets to voters. To achieve this, Schoharie CSD is cutting an instructional position in the Elementary School, an instructional position in the Jr./Sr. High School, a maintenance mechanic position and a school administrator position. All four positions are being reduced through attrition. There are no layoffs. The school administrator position is the one being vacated by the Jr./Sr. High School principal, who announced in April he was leaving to take a position elsewhere. The district is looking at restructuring its administrative team for the 2024-25 school year.

Mr. Blanchard indicated there will be difficult years to come statewide in terms of state aid for schools, as Albany will look to revise its Foundation Aid formula, which is the main category for state aid.

“We have to be cautious as we navigate the next school year and the years beyond,” he said.

Tax Levy Limit
The tax levy limit, while sometimes referred to as a “2 percent tax cap,” is set through a state-mandated formula and can be higher or lower than 2 percent based on the individual circumstances of each district.

This year, Schoharie CSD’s state-mandated levy limit is 2.45 percent. The board of education is choosing to present a budget that meets this tax levy limit. For nine of the last 11 years, the district has kept the tax levy change under 2 percent.

“This year, due to the reduction in the percentage of state aid support for the district, as well as the increased costs, it is not possible to go below the 2.45 percent tax levy limit without reductions in student programming or mandated services,” Mr. Blanchard said.

Because the district is proposing a budget that meets the tax levy limit, only a simple majority of voters – 50 percent plus one – is needed for it to pass. If approved, the budget would go into effect on July 1, 2024.