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May 16 Budget Vote

Highlighted Budget Changes

- An increase of two elementary classroom teachers and associated special area staffing ($202,000)

- An increase of 2.4 full-time equivalent (FTE) middle school teaching positions ($172,000)

- A net increase in high school teaching staff of 0.35 FTE ($29,000)

- An increase in elementary teaching assistant staffing for Professional Learning Communities ($12,000

- Establish a summer "Kindergarten Readiness Program" ($9,000, paid for with existing summer school funds)

Budget addresses class size, advances educational initiatives

The proposed budget that residents will decide on at the polls on Tuesday, May 16, includes the addition of about five full-time equivalent (FTE) teaching positions. It also includes funding to continue several initiatives designed to strengthen support for students and ensure a curriculum that is aligned with learning standards and connects class activities with relevant, real-world experiences. The increased staffing and ongoing initiatives that the proposed budget supports are described on this page.


Elementary Class Size

The budget includes funding for two additional elementary classroom teachers and associated special area staffing (art, music and physical education). This addition is part of the plan to manage class sizes at the elementary level, which is being phased in over a period of years with entering kindergarten classes.

Middle School Class Size

An overall increase of 2.4 full-time equivalent (FTE) teaching positions in sixth and seventh grade at Van Antwerp Middle School will help manage class sizes. Without additional staff, many classes would exceed 30 students. District leaders considered several options to address this issue, including reassigning some students to Iroquois. However, increasing staff at Van Antwerp was identified as the best approach to balancing class sizes, keeping classmates together and positioning each school's program for the future.

Advancing the High School Program

An increase of 0.35 FTE in teaching staff at Niskayuna High School is based on student course requests. It will allow existing courses to run within current class-size ranges and enable the introduction of a robotics course and a second level of Chinese language study next year.

Professional Learning Communities

The budget includes $12,000 in additional teaching assistant staff time so that each elementary school can continue to implement Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). Through this initiative, teams of teachers and staff work on essential skills and concepts with smaller groups of students during designated periods.

Kindergarten Readiness

Some existing summer school funding will be used to create a summer kindergarten readiness program. This will provide 24 students with extra support and in-school experience prior to entering kindergarten. This proactive approach is designed to make sure that the students, who will be identified through kindergarten screening, have the strongest possible start when school opens in the fall.

Professional Development & Curriculum Design

The budget continues to invest in faculty and staff attendance at workshops, trainings and other professional learning opportunities based on district professional development goals. Funding is also set aside for teachers at all levels to develop and refine new units of study.

Teacher Leadership

In recent years, the district has moved to a teacher-leader model to provide high school departments with necessary leadership and support as the director positions became K-12 instructional leaders. Next year, the district will explore the expansion of the teacher-leader model.