COLONIE — Voters in the South Colonie School District overwhelmingly approved the $113.5 million 2022-23 spending plan and gave the district permission to spend up to $1.9 million to purchase the soon to be former BOCES site on Watervliet Shaker Road.
The budget will raise spending by 5 percent, or $5.4 million, and taxes by about 2.5 percent. The tax increase represents an additional $5.18 per month for the owner of a home in Colonie with a market value of $150,000, or $62 a year. For owners of a $200,000 and $250,000 home, the annual increase would be about $83 and $103, respectively.
The budget passed on Tuesday, May 17, with 1418 yes votes, or 77 percent, to 418 who voted against.
“We want to thank all South Colonie residents who took time out of their day to vote,” said David Perry, superintendent of schools. “The 2022-23 budget will allow us to preserve educational programs and services at the current level for the 2022-23 school year and provide additional program enhancements to provide an equitable educational experience and access to services for all students.”
The budget process was made easier thanks in no small part to the increase in state aid and a $9.3 million infusion of federal money over three years as part of the massive COVID-19 relief packages passed by Congress. Specifically, South Colonie Central School District was allocated $4.6 million from the American Rescue Plan Act and $4.7 million from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. There is no guarantee, though, the money will be extended past the 2023-24 school year.
“The good thing is not only do we have the federal money right now, we do we have anticipated increases in foundation aid this year and next year,” Perry said during a budget presentation. “What we can’t do is consistently continue to spend an additional $1.5 million every year.”
By a slightly smaller but still convincing margin, votes approved the purchase of the 13.1-acre BOCES site to convert into a new transportation and operations and maintenance facility.
The purchase of the BOCES site and its six buildings is the first step and does not include the cost of renovating the facility.
Construction plans will be part of the Next Generation Colonie Capital Project referendum that will go to voters this fall. Details for this project have not been finalized by the Board of Education, but it will likely include renovations to the existing district office instead of new construction and will include renovations to every school building in the district.
Last year, voters gave the district permission to spend up to $2 million to purchase 57 acres on Broderick Street — located off Central Avenue at the end of Walker Way in the Village of Colonie — by a vote of 731 to 418. The property has not yet been purchased and once officials discovered how difficult and expensive it would be to construct a new facility at that location they began exploring other options.
BOCES is in the process of building a new $64 million facility about a mile north on Watervliet Shaker Road. It would allow the consolidation of the Career and Technical Education Center, which Colonie is exploring, and the Maywood School currently located at 1979 Central Ave. BOCES, basically, outgrew its site on Watervliet Shaker Road.
By a count of 1,368 to 460, voters also approved spending $1.2 million on 11 new vehicles including $822,000 on six new passenger busses, $142,000 on a wheelchair bus, $42,000 on a six passenger Suburban and $24,000 on a mini-van.
Financing would be bonded with the first payment due during the 2023-24 school year and 61 percent of it would be covered by state aid.
By about a two-to-one margin, two incumbent Board of Education members defeated two challengers running as a ticket.
According to the district, BOE President Rose Gigliello defeated Jeremy Rundell for one five-year seat by a count of 1,192 to 551, and Michael Keane defeated Nicole Castelle by a count of 1,159 to 588.
Gigliello was first elected in 2012 and the recently retired BOCES special education teacher has lived in the district for more than 35 years. She is an active member of ICARE and was awarded a lifetime membership to the Parent Teacher Association. She has served on the district Curriculum Mapping and the Special Education Advisory committees.
She and her husband, John, have two daughters, both Colonie Central High School graduates.
Keane won his first full, five-year seat on the board after getting elected in 2019 to fill the years remaining on an unexpired term.
The 1992 graduate of Colonie High, Keane has lived in the district for 19 years and is the director of human resources for Living Resources Corporation. He serves as the male engagement specialist for the Northeast Region of New York State PTA, is a current member of the Colonie High PTSA, and is a member of both the Colonie Girls Soccer and Girls Softball booster clubs.
He and his wife, Kim, have a son and a daughter who both attend South Colonie Schools.
Rundell and Castelle formed a ticket loosely associated with the national movement of giving parents more of a say in forming educational curriculum.