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2017-2018 School Budget Information  

State budget limbo creates uncertainty as district officials continue to crunch numbers on 2017-18 school budget

 

With the clock ticking down on the deadline for the Board of Education to adopt its proposed school budget for the 2017-18 school year, Watervliet City School District officials are keeping their fingers crossed that the legislature will reach agreement on the state's budget.

“Developing our school budget has become more ambiguous since we do not yet have definitive information as to the amount of state aid our district will receive,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Lori Caplan. “We remain optimistic that the legislature and the governor will reach a budget deal before April 12 when our board is set to adopt its 2017-18 budget resolution.”

The legislature historically includes more funding for schools in the final state budget than is often proposed in the executive budget. With no tangible state aid numbers, however, Dr. Caplan said the most cautious path right now is to develop the school budget based on the aid outlined in the governor’s executive proposal.

Under the governor’s budget proposal released in January, Watervliet's foundation aid would increase $216,572. With other categorical aids factored in, including expense-driven aid and building aid, the district would receive a total of $582,837 in funding from the state.

Outlook on school budget, tax increase

The 2017-18 school budget proposal would increase spending between 2-3 percent and would support all current academic programs and student services. It would also include funding to restore some modified sports teams that had been eliminated previously, as well as add a special education teacher and increase a part-time reading position to full time at the Jr./Sr. High School to help meet student needs.

The Watervliet school district will stay within its allowable tax levy cap, as it has every year since the cap was enacted. Based on calculations, the district’s maximum allowable cap for the 2017-18 school year is 1.3 percent. District officials anticipate presenting a budget proposal that would yield a tax levy increase slightly below the allowable cap.

Separate library prop

For the first time, city residents will see a separate proposition on the ballot for funding to support the Watervliet Public Library. The Watervliet Public Library Board of Trustees notified district officials about the proposition, which asks voters to authorize the school district to levy a tax of $150,000 to support the library’s programs and services.

In accordance with state education law, the school district is required to present the library proposition on its ballot. Although the library proposition has nothing to do with the school district’s finances, the law requires that the district allow the library to place the funding proposition on its ballot.

If voters approve the library proposition, the tax revenue collected would go directly to the library, not the school district. “The library is a separate legal entity,” said Dr. Caplan. “Any public funds collected through the library proposition are in no way related to the school district’s budget or school taxes.”

Important dates

The public is invited to the final school budget workshop, the annual Budget Breakfast, this Saturday, April 8 at 9 a.m. at Watervliet Jr./Sr. High School. A public hearing on the budget proposal is scheduled for Tuesday, May 9 at 6 p.m. The public budget vote will follow on Tuesday, May 16 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the district’s two polling locations, the Watervliet Elementary School and the Watervliet Elks.