Public schools are among the most significant investments that any community makes collectively. District leaders work to make the most effective use of resources to benefit students, to develop and manage the budget in a responsible and transparent manner, and to be accountable to taxpayers. Each spring the Board of Education adopts a budget for the coming school year for a community vote, which is typically held on the third Tuesday in May.
2021-22 Budget Proposal
On Tuesday, May 18, Cohoes residents will go to the polls to vote on a proposed $43,636,917 school district spending plan for the 2021-22 school year. This represents a $230,819, or 0.5%, decrease over the current year. The vote will be held from noon to 9 p.m. at the district’s three elementary schools. Residents will also elect two members to the Board of Education.
“We believe the budget process and proposal reflects our commitment to meeting the needs of our students and putting them on a path to success,” Interim Superintendent Peggy O’Shea said.
The estimated increase to the tax rate, used to determine individual tax bills, is less than 1%. District leaders estimate that taxes on a home with a market value of $150,000 would increase by about $26 annually, before factoring in the STAR rebate. The budget proposal includes a 6.8% increase to the tax levy, which is the total amount of money the district can raise through property taxes. This can be attributed mostly to the addition of Brookfield Power to the tax rolls, as a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement with the company recently expired. In turn, Brookfield will now be responsible for its share of the tax levy. Because the proposed tax levy is within the district’s allowable limit under the state’s tax “cap” formula, a simple majority (50% plus 1) is needed for approval.
In response to the financial uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board of Education and district leaders opted for a zero-based budgeting process. Traditional “rollover” budgeting analyzes only new expenditures, while zero-based budgeting starts from zero and calls for a justification of previous expenses in addition to new expenditures.
The process began with each of the district’s schools and departments conducting a needs assessment. The assessments and subsequent proposals were submitted to the district’s budget committee. The budget committee then conducted a return on investment analysis and made recommendations to the Board of Education of what should be included in the 2021-22 budget.
Key items added/reinstated
- AIM Academy
- .4 FTE School Counselor to bring to 1.0 FTE
- ARC Transitions Contract 1.0 FTE
- After School Assistance Program
- Summer School
- .6 FTE School Counselor to bring to 1.0 FTE
- Specialized (Tier III) Reading Teacher (1.0 FTE)
- Special Class Math (.2 FTE)
- Behavior Support Teacher (.2 FTE)
- Additional special education and/or academic intervention support at all three elementary schools through reassigning existing resources.
- 1.0 Music Teacher
State budget provides additional revenue for schools
In April, when the final state budget was adopted, the spending plan included an $871,700 increase in state aid for Cohoes in the upcoming school year. The state aid increase is mostly attributed to Foundation Aid, which is the primary source of funding for general-purpose operating aid for schools. The state has also committed to giving schools their full funding, as determined by the Foundation Aid formula through a scheduled three-year phase-in. The increase in state aid will strengthen the district’s financial position in the long term.
What happens if the budget is defeated?
The district would adopt a contingency budget to include more than $500,000 in appropriated use of reserves and fund balance.
Allowable Expenditures under a contingency budget include: (1) legal expenditures; (2) expenditures specifically authorized by statute; and (3) other items necessary to maintain the education program, preserve property and assure the health and safety of students and staff.
Under a contingency budget $575,000 in further reductions would be required. This would include: district wide clubs and athletics, district wide instructional materials, supplies, equipment, conferences and more.
Board of Education Election
There are two candidates, incumbent Richard Jackson and Renee Snyder, running for two open board seats. Candidate profiles are scheduled to be made available May 10 on the district website.
2021-22 Budget Documents
- Line Budget/Budget Statement
- Budget Notice
- Property Tax Report Card
- Administrative Compensation
- Exemption Report
To print an absentee ballot application, review voter qualifications and find your polling place visit our voter information page.
To look up you tax bill, pay online and more visit our tax collection page.
Understanding New York’s Tax Levy Cap
When Cohoes voters head to the polls to vote on the school budget each year, they cast votes for a budget plan shaped in part by a law known to many as the Property Tax Cap. Approved by the State Legislature in 2011, this complex law is intended to provide property tax relief. The law does not create a cap, but a threshold that determines the level of voter support needed to pass the budget every year. That threshold is different for every school district in the state.
Tax levy v. tax rate
The tax levy is the total amount of money the school district raises in property taxes. Actual tax rates are dependent on several factors including assessment practices and equalization rates.
Tax rates are not set until July — after the state certifies assessment rolls for the properties in the city of Cohoes. Tax bills are sent out in September after this process has concluded. The school district has no control over assessment practices — and does not collect more in taxes than the amount it levies.
Smart Schools Investment Plan
The Cohoes City School District’s Smart Schools Investment Plan was produced in accordance with the New York State Smart Schools Bond Act, approved by voters in November 2014.