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COLONIE – Voters in the North Colonie Central School District, on Tuesday, May 15, overwhelmingly approved a $111.1 million budget for 2018-19 by a count of 1,434 to 489.
The budget – which includes money for a School Resource Officer at Shaker High School for the first time – will increase spending by 3.1 percent, which is less than the 3.13 state mandated tax cap. The tax rate will increase by 1.9 percent.
That equates to an annual increase of $83.49 for an average single family home assessed at $172,000, according to the district, but that may vary slightly depending on the final assessment figures generated by the town sometime in August.
By a count of 1,503 to 417, voters also approved Proposition 2, which will allow the district to create a fund and save up to $10 million for future construction projects.
Other districts not only allocate money to the fund in the annual budget, but also add to it when, for example, there is a mild winter and there is money left from snow plowing. It alleviates the need for districts to bond for capital improvements.
“I believe this a strong budget that will address the district’s safety and security needs, our students’ social and emotional welfare, and promotes continued academic excellence,” said Superintendent Joseph Corr. “I’d like to thank the community for their ongoing support of our children and our families.”
Two seats on the Board of Education were up for grabs. Incumbent Sandy Pangburn was re-elected, and she and newcomer Michelle Dischiavo will serve five-year terms.
Pangburn, who ran unopposed for her seat, received 1,565 votes. Dischiavo got 869 while Timothy O’Connor and Alexandra Kane received 626 and 267, respectively, in the race for the other open seat.
Corr said this year’s budget focused on strengthening three objectives: Safety and security, mental health and 21st century learning.
The district allocated $40,000 for an SRO and will split the cost of having an officer at the high school on a full time basis with the Colonie Police Department. While other districts in the area, including South Colonie, have long had armed police officers on campus, this is a first for North Colonie.
The budget also provides money to allow the district to team up with the state and BOCES to create a mental health clinic staffed with certified social workers. It will likely be at the high school, but could also be located at a centrally located elementary school. The goal is to have it open in September and provide 24-hour access for enrolled students and families.
School safety has been at the forefront after a number of high-profile shootings in schools across the country. A two pronged approach is widely accepted – make the schools safer by adding something like an SRO, and to address the mental health of students before it deteriorates to the point of bringing weapons to school campuses.
The budget also allocates $329,000 to renovate the athletic training facilities at the high school. Most of the work will be completed in-house using maintenance staff and the majority of the cost — $208,000 — will be for new equipment and materials to make the existing space more accommodating to new thoughts and methods of working out and teaching students to live healthier lifestyles.
The third leg of the stool is geared towards what is dubbed “21st Century Learning,” which includes programs and courses to help prepare students for college and careers in the 21st century.
That includes money for an extension of STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — classes from grades 9 through 12, to grades K through 12 and additional English Language Arts classes.
It also includes the addition of a director of K-12 Teaching, Learning and Innovation, with the help of a federal grant, to “update our curriculum and make it so students are experiencing more interdisciplinary learning to meet the needs of students in the 21st Century which are different than what our needs were when we were in school,” Corr said previously.
There is also a new kindergarten teacher, with an allocated salary of $78,622, included in the budget to accommodate a projected enrollment increase.
To learn more about North Colonie’s 2018-19 school budget, visit northcolonie.org and click on the Budget and Taxes tab.