2022-2023 Proposed Budget is LESS THAN the Current Budget, and Meets NYS Tax Cap Criteria while Increasing Opportunities for Students
The Saugerties Central School District Board of Education adopted a $66,426,716 proposed budget for the 2022-2023 school year that is $110,249 LESS THAN the current year’s budget. The decrease in the budget was accomplished through savings generated by the decision to repurpose an elementary school and by the payoff of bonds related to previous capital projects.
According to Superintendent Kirk Reinhardt, a responsible school budget accomplishes three things: it stays under the tax cap, it maintains a student-centered learning environment, and it reduces the possibility of negative fiscal fluctuation in the future. “This District administrative team and the Board of Education have worked tirelessly to be good financial stewards, and the proposed budget adheres to those principles,” says Reinhardt.
The proposed budget reflects a 2.36 percent tax levy increase and meets the New York State Tax Cap formula criteria for a simple majority voter approval. The community is encouraged to participate in the school budget vote and Board of Education election on Tuesday, May 17, between 6 AM and 9 PM. Polls will be open at each of the four elementary school buildings.
New Opportunities for Students
Despite the decrease in the budget from the current year, the proposed budget preserves all existing student programs (including several that were added during the current school year), while providing new opportunities for student extracurricular programs, a librarian at each school building, Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM) Career and Technical Education electives, new microscopes and scales for High School science courses, robotics kits for Junior High students, technology server upgrades, and devices to expand our 1:1 technology program. The proposed budget also provides support to address academic and mental health challenges brought on by the pandemic.
The Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Gwendolyn Roraback, is pleased to announce that this budget also includes the availability of 15 newly approved courses for students (with the caveat that enough students will need to enroll to ensure the programs run). See the new courses in the box in the sidebar!
This was accomplished through $1.18 million in staff reductions, some through retirements, along with federal pandemic-relief funding.
“Although repurposing Mt. Marion Elementary School was a difficult solution for the District’s Governance Committee to recommend, and a more difficult decision for the Board of Education to make, it is already helping the District achieve some financial stability, while enriching opportunities for students,” explains Reinhardt. “This was a Governance Committee goal, and also responds to some of the feedback that we heard at our Town Hall meetings. Parents want more options for their children academically, mentally, and physically, and this budget offers that,” he explains.
Reinhardt also says that the changes will help align the curriculum throughout the District and will offer the ability to create new learning opportunities to help all students reach their potential.
Building Leadership Teams at each of the elementary schools have been busy preparing students for the blending of Mt. Marion students and organizing meet-and-greet-style events to explain the new K-6 three-building configuration that will be in effect in September. Teacher transfers have been announced, and principals’ locations will be shared in the coming days. Elementary school boundaries were redrawn to help balance enrollment and class size at each of the elementary schools. Letters have been sent to parents regarding their children’s new elementary school.
Managing Energy Expenses
School Business Official Jane St. Amour has been closely monitoring market volatility, especially around electric and heating oil expenses. The District’s electric rates are currently locked in through participation in an energy cooperative, which has resulted in stable usage costs. In December of 2020, the voters approved an Energy Performance Contract (EPC) to make upgrades that will generate energy efficiencies over time. This work is now underway and will result in reduced electricity and heating costs.
Weatherization at Riccardi, Cahill, Mt. Marion, Hildebrandt, and the High School, as well as pipe insulation installation at Mt. Marion, Morse, Cahill, Hildebrant, and the High School, have already been completed. Desktop Computer Power Management has also been completed. “These cost savings will give us the ability to redirect those savings to where it can better serve our students,” says St. Amour.
Staff & Supply Chain Shortages
St. Amour is also closely monitoring other areas of the economy that are creating challenges. The nation is currently experiencing a paper shortage, and food suppliers are reluctant to bid on items used in the school meal program because of price volatility. A severe shortage of bus drivers, along with the escalating price of fuel, will impact transportation contracts. There is also a shortage of teacher substitutes as well as all non-instructional substitutes.
Capital Project Update
The Capital Project approved by voters in December 2020 is progressing. Final plans for the project were created by the District’s architects, engineers, and construction managers and were submitted to the State Education Department (SED) in October of 2021. SED approved the project in April of 2022, and the project is currently in the bidding stage. Once bids are awarded, work can begin.
Included in the 2022-2023 budget is a Capital Outlay project for $100,000. This project will either be additional flooring work at Riccardi Elementary School or work inside and outside of Cahill Elementary School.
If the proposed budget fails to receive approval, the Board of Education has the option of re-submitting the same budget or a revised budget to voters, or adopting a contingency budget. If a budget is defeated a second time, then the District is required to adopt a contingency budget.
Under a contingency budget, reductions would need to be made to maintain the 2022-2023 tax levy at the same level as the 2021-2022 school year. By law, all equipment purchases would be removed from the budget and there would only be essential maintenance performed on the facilities. The District would also be required to eliminate free community use of facilities.
- The proposed budget is $110,249 LESS THAN the current year’s budget.
- Continues all pre-pandemic programming for students.
- Adds an elementary librarian, so there is a librarian at each school.
- Expands electives by adding two secondary STEAM/Career and Technical Education (CTE) teachers, along with STEAM/CTE classes.
- Adds a secondary French/Spanish teacher to make foreign language programs more accessible for students.
- Provides Chromebooks to expand our 1.1 technology program.
- Provides new microscopes and scales for the Senior High.
- Adds robotics kits for Junior High School students.
- Adds a reading specialist.
Check Out the New Student Clubs Supported by the Proposed Budget
- Science Club
- Business Entrepreneurship Club
- Poetry Club
- Japanese Animation & Culture Club
- Fishing Club
New Courses for Students Supported by the Proposed Budget
- Desktop Publishing
- Digital Advertising and Design
- Sports Broadcasting and Event Planning
- Digital Citizenship
- Algebra 1B
- Algebra, Functions, and Data Analysis
- Graphing Calculator Fundamentals
- Piano 3
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Chemistry and Forensics
- College Physics
- Real World Physics 1 and 2
- Scientific Research and design
- History Through Film
- Introduction to Robotics