On Tuesday, May 17, residents will go to the polls to vote on a proposed $41,425,588 spending plan for the 2016-17 school year. The proposed budget increases spending over the current-year by $1,135,483 or 2.82 percent.
The proposed spending plan includes a zero percent increase in the tax levy—which is the total amount of money the district can raise through property taxes. This means the district would collect the same amount ($14,710,755) as last year. This amount is below Cohoes’ calculated limit, meaning a simple majority of voters is required for passage.
The board of education approved the proposed budget on April 20 following a series of public workshops held this spring.
In 2016-17, the district anticipates a 3.39 percent increase in state aid ($598,125) over the current year. This includes $110,625 of community schools funding, which is slated for counseling services to Cohoes students in need of behavioral and mental health support.
Under the proposal, 6.6 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions would be added.
“We spent considerable time examining the program areas that have suffered from the severe cuts that were made to balance the budget in previous years,” said Superintendent Jennifer Spring, Ed.D. “Now in a more fiscally stable circumstance, we’re addressing those gaps in learning and working hard to improve educational outcomes for every student who walks through our doors.”
The district’s formal budget hearing is at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 4 in the middle school library.
Polls will be open on Tuesday, May 17, from noon to 9 p.m. at Abram Lansing, Harmony Hill and Van Schaick Elementary Schools.
Under the proposed budget, a full-time elementary band teacher would bring back instrumental instruction for fourth and fifth graders. The elementary schools would also have another Academic Intervention Services (AIS) teacher to serve students in need of extra help.
In the middle school, additional teaching time in health, technology, science and math is required to meet the scheduling needs of students moving up grade levels. A behavioral teaching assistant would also oversee a Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) room to mitigate out-of-school suspensions. The library media specialist position at the middle school would also increase from part-time to full-time under the proposed budget.
The proposed budget would fund teacher leaders in the areas of math, science, social studies and English. Specific at-risk students at the high school who are in need of added academic, behavioral and social supports would also be provided an afterschool program opportunity.
An instructional technology integration specialist would be charged with supporting classroom teachers with strategies and training to incorporate the district’s technology resources into meaningful teaching and learning. The position, categorized as a teacher on special assignment, would also be instrumental in the district’s technology plan for funding from the Smart Schools Bond Act, passed in November, 2015, to provide school districts across New York with funding for new educational technology and infrastructure improvements. In addition, a full-time senior custodian would be hired to oversee cleaning staff during afterschool and evening hours in all of the school buildings.