At the March 22 Board meeting, Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra, Jr. presented
a draft 2016-17 budget that continues all current programs and services and
includes some potential budget additions to meet targeted needs.
The $80.4 million spending plan he outlined calls for a tax levy increase of 0.41 percent, which is at the district's limit under the state tax cap law.
Dr. Tangorra presented the draft budget as part of a broader plan for next year that contains three key areas of focus:
He has referred to a series of restorations and additions in the budget,
which are contingent upon the level of aid Niskayuna receives in the final state
budget, as "modest but necessary." They include additional social and emotional
support for students at the elementary level and an increase in teaching staff
to help manage class sizes and continue current programs based on K-8 enrollment
and high school course requests. A full list of the pending restorations/budget
additions is below.
"We have mapped out a plan that will allow us to make continued forward progress as a district and meet some specific needs," Dr. Tangorra said. "We had hoped to include further restorations and additional investments, but we recognize that we must do that in a measured, sustainable manner. For now, the good news is that current programs will continue, along with the focus on students and learning that has been strengthened over the last two years."
The budget for 2016-17 continues the same format that was introduced last
year, with a breakdown of staffing and expenditures in each area of the
district. Each section of the budget is accompanied by a narrative that contains
an overview, state requirements and any highlighted changes for 2016-17. The
complete draft budget is available right here [PDF]. (Note: This is a
large file, 450KB.)
The Board is expected to discuss, and potentially adopt, a proposed budget for 2016-17 at its April 5 meeting. In the meantime, members are reviewing the budget book. The annual budget vote will be held on Tuesday, May 17.
The backdrop for the development of the budget included this year's program
presentations at Board meetings, continuing uncertainty about state aid, and an
extremely restrictive state tax cap.
The inflation figure that New York schools were required to plug into the tax cap calculation this year was just 0.12, or twelve-hundredths of one percent. The district's calculated limit of a 0.41 percent tax levy provides about $224,000 in additional local revenue over the current year.
State aid for next year will depend upon a final state budget, which is due by April 1.
When Governor Cuomo released his executive budget proposal in January, it showed that about $1 million would be withheld from the district through the continuation of the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA). However, the Senate and Assembly have called for a complete restoration of the GEA in their state budget proposals.
The plan that Dr. Tangorra outlined on Tuesday factored in this total restoration of the GEA. He noted that if this funding is not restored, the district will not be able to include all of the pending restorations and budget additions that were presented in the 2016-17 budget.
Regardless, Dr. Tangorra said the district will be in a position to continue all current programs and services next year.
"We are moving forward," he said. "We will be able to further the initiatives that have been started as we continue shaping a vision for the future of the district."
Given the state budget deadline of April 1, state aid information for 2016-17 should be available to the district in time for the Board's April 5 meeting. That meeting will be held in the Niskayuna High School Library Media Center at 6 p.m.
*FTE = Full-time equivalent