Niskayuna schools facing tough cuts

Closure of middle or elementary school possible as 
$6M budget gap looms

— The Niskayuna Central School District would need to raise taxes by 11.4 percent to maintain current programming and services, and making the least painful cuts would only bring that down to 8.9 percent.

Superintendent Susan Kay Salvaggio and Assistant Superintendent for Business Matthew Bourgeois laid out the list of possible cuts for the 2013-14 budget during a Board of Education meeting Tuesday, Feb. 5. There are three levels of cuts, and “Level 2” reductions include the closing of Van Antwerp Middle School or an undetermined elementary school. The district’s projected property levy tax cap increase of 3.25 percent offers little to close its $6 million budget gap.

The district is projected to receive $519,000 less in state aid next year, with revenues likely decreasing $2.5 million, or 3.3 percent. Expenses though are increasing by $3.5 million, or 4.7 percent.

“It is really the beginning of a very long, arduous process — it is a process where we’ll talk about everything and anything,” Salvaggio said to a packed crowd in Van Antwerp’s auditorium.

Before delving into cuts, the districted presented 5-year projections (2013-14 to 2017-18) for “major” budget categories.

“The expenses that we have and some revenues that we have … seem to be going in opposite directions,” Bourgeois said.

Salaries are expected to increase 2.96 percent on average annually and benefits will increase on average 7.7 percent annually. State aid isn’t projected to increase and holds an average annual decrease of 2.41 percent. Fund balance is expected to decrease around 0.4 percent annually.

Potential budget reductions likely to occur (Level 1) include cutting $553,600 of instructional support, $552,600 of administrative services and $471,900 of direct instruction.

Level 1 reductions include eliminate five full-time equivalent positions through cutting two teaching positions, physical education and foreign language, and reducing five other areas by 0.2 FTE teaching positions. The 0.2 cuts are typically related to high school electives, Salvaggio said.

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