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Board of Education adopts proposed budget for 2016-17

April 20, 2016

Schalmont Central School District residents will head to the polls on Tuesday, May 17 to vote on a $46,570,427 budget proposal for the 2016-17 school year, which increases spending by $772,866 or 1.7 percent over the current year’s budget.

If approved, the tax levy—the total amount of money to be raised through property taxes—would increase $187,427 or 0.68 percent, which is the district’s maximum allowed under the state’s tax levy limit law. A simply majority is required for budget approval.

Residents will also vote on a bus proposition and the purchase of property for an emergency egress, and elect three candidates to the board of education.

“After a tumultuous start to the process this year, we are pleased to be able to present a budget that keeps our existing instructional programming mostly intact, while being mindful of the needs of our taxpayers,” Schalmont Superintendent Dr. Carol Pallas said.

Closing the Gap

Schalmont began its budget process facing a budget gap of $1.12 million, causing district officials and board members to wrestle with difficult decisions in terms of cuts to balance the budget and whether to override the tax levy limit.

With the adoption of the New York state budget April 1 came the end to the Gap Elimination Adjustment, a take-back of aid from the state that has cost the district more than $8.2 million since instituted in 2010-11. As a result, the district received an additional $489,000 in state funds this year.

In addition, the final rates for the district’s Blue Shield health plan decreased, which, coupled with a negotiated increased employee contribution, resulted in a $200,000 savings. Also added into the budget equation were a number of recently announced retirements of Schalmont staff. The salary differential for new employees for these positions will save the district an additional $150,000.

District officials were able to bridge the remaining gap without any reductions that directly affected instructional programming or student activities. There will be a 1.0 full-time equivalent (FTE) reduction in staff at Jefferson due to declining enrollment; a 3.0 FTE elimination of Teachers on Special Assignment, reductions to supply budgets, an elimination of K-4 supplement supplies, and retirements that will not be filled for non-instructional staff.

The Changing Face of Education

With the bulk instructional programming remaining in place for 2016-17, the district will be able to continue the work being done under its Technology Plan. For the last two year, Schalmont teachers have been on the cutting edge of blending technology and instruction. This type of learning, educators say, give students a chance to take ownership of their educational process.

“Our teachers have done some innovative work advancing technology in the classroom this year, and it shows not only in the excitement of our students, but also in the inquiries we’ve received from other districts about our practices,” Pallas said. “We expect this momentum and forward thinking to expand even more in 2016-17.”

Some of the unique teaching methods and classes include a “flipped” math class where students watch instructional videos as homework and then work on problems and projects during classroom time, a digital literacy class for sixth graders, virtual labs and digital textbooks at the high school level, and online games targeted to improve reading and phonics for elementary students.

With additional money from the Smart Schools Bond Act, the district will be able to continue its one-to-one initiative next year, in which all incoming freshmen will receive a Chromebook to use throughout their high school career. More white board projectors will be added to classrooms for increased interactive learning opportunities for students.

Voting information

The official budget hearing will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, May 9 in the MS LGI. Prior to the hearing will be the “Meet the Board Candidates Night” at 6 p.m. also in the MS LGI.

The annual school district budget vote will be held Tuesday, May 17 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the High School New Gym Lobby. Please remember to bring your ID.

If you are unable to make it to the polls on Tuesday, May 17, you may apply for an absentee ballot. Applications are available online or at the district office. All applications must be returned to the district clerk by Tuesday, May 10 in order to receive a ballot. All completed absentee ballots must be received by the district clerk by 5 p.m. May 17.