COLONIE — The release of the governor’s Executive Budget Proposal marks the formal beginning of the annual state budget process, and the earnest push to compose next year’s spending plans for area school districts.
The deadline for an on-time state budget is April 1.
In addition to a fully funded foundation aid formula, the budget proposal includes full funding of the expense-based aids that go to support capital projects, pupil transportation, and educational programs for students with disabilities.
For South Colonie, budget planning has commenced. Hochul’s tentative plan includes an increase of 31.56 percent or $7,125,974 in Foundation Aid for the district for the 2023-24 school year. The foundation aid increase includes a set aside for “High-Impact Tutoring” of $759,018. While Foundation Aid is the largest source of general operating funds for school districts, it still makes up just 27 percent of the revenue for South Colonie’s current year budget.
Other revenue outlined in the proposal includes funding the second of a three-year phase-in of Foundation Aid and fully funding expense-based aids or reimbursements for spending in specific areas such as transportation, facilities improvements, BOCES services and certain special education expenses.
“We are happy to see some of the money to be returned that was cut during the GEA,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. David Perry. “We went through several years of deep cuts while the needs for our students continued to rise. After many years in which the level of Foundation Aid lagged behind what was due to the state’s schools, it is refreshing to see Governor Hochul continue to move forward with her promise.”
Other factors that impact budget planning for South Colonie include the Tax Cap which is the highest allowable tax levy (before exemptions) that a school district can propose as part of its annual budget. But despite the fact that the district is set to receive additional revenue as outlined by the Governor, school districts like South Colonie are also dealing with a rise in expenses including health insurance, salaries, pension contributions and overall inflation.
“Our focus for the upcoming school year will be to maintain programs that provide equitable academic opportunities and services for students, many of which have been grant funded through stimulus funds for the past two years,” said Jacqlene McAllister, assistant superintendent for management services and strategic planning. “Other priorities will be the expansion of ENL (English as a new language) programming, strengthening the continuum of services for our special education population, and planning for both the sustainability of our programs, staffing, and facilities for the next generation of Colonie.”
South Colonie Board of Education and district leadership is currently underway conducting a comprehensive review of programs and services and will continue with the budget process.