School budget vote day and Board of Education elections
On Tuesday, May 16, residents will go to the polls to vote on a proposed $41,826,200 spending plan for the 2017-18 school year. The proposed budget increases spending over the current-year by $400,612 or 0.97 percent.
The proposed spending plan includes a 1.62 percent increase in the tax levy—which is the total amount of money the district can raise through property taxes. This amount is at Cohoes’ calculated levy limit–or cap–meaning a simple majority of voters is required for passage. The increase would generate $238,744 in new revenue for the district.
The board of education approved the proposed budget on April 12 following a series of public workshops held this spring.
The budget includes the addition of a public transportation initiative for middle and high school students. Under the proposal, eligible students in grades 6-12 would receive a CDTA bus pass take one of three newly developed “school routes” to ride safely to and from school.
The community weighed in on the transportation proposal during March and April via an online survey and a public presentation by CDTA representatives at the March 29 Board of Education meeting.
“More than 72 percent of community members who completed the survey were in favor of providing bus passes to students,” said Superintendent Jennifer Spring, Ed.D. “This proposal is a very cost-effective way for us to address the growing need for reliable and safe transportation for our students walking on our busy city streets.”
In 2017-18, the district anticipates a 3.06 percent increase in state aid ($558,230) over the current year. Under the proposal, 9.8 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions would be added. (See below for details.)
The district’s formal budget hearing is at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 3 in the middle school library.
Polls will be open on Tuesday, May 16, from noon to 9 p.m. at Abram Lansing, Harmony Hill and Van Schaick Elementary Schools.
Elementary (1.0 FTE)
Under the proposed budget, a full-time elementary/Academic Intervention Services (AIS) teacher would be hired for an added classroom or serve students in need of extra help, depending on student enrollment.
Middle School (0.2 FTE)
In the middle school, 0.2 FTE additional teaching time in social studies is required to meet the scheduling needs of students moving up grade levels.
High School (3.6 FTE)
The proposed budget would fund a 0.4 FTE (2 days per week) high school career coordinator to connect students with career exploration and internship opportunities, as well as a full-time guidance counselor and a full-time social worker to address a growing need for college and career counseling, as well as behavioral and mental health counseling. The part-time high school safety officer would be hired as a full-time position. To accommodate scheduling needs in social studies, 0.2 FTE additional teaching time would also be needed.
Special Education (4.0 FTE)
A full-time special education teacher, teacher assistant and teacher aide would all be hired to staff a new special education classroom at Van Schaick Grade School. A 0.5 FTE speech teacher would also be needed to serve the special education student population. Growing caseloads in special education have led to a need for a 0.5 FTE medicaid reimbursement clerk.
Districtwide (1.0 FTE)
A full-time cleaner would be hired to replace current part-time substitute cleaners and rebalance duties and responsibilities of cleaning staff across school buildings.