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2014-15 Budget  

Dr. Lori Caplan and Assemblyman John McDonald speak with community members about state aid and Watervliet's proposed 2014-15 school budget during a budget workshop on April 12.  

District officials close to finalizing the 2014-15 school budget

Watervliet school district officials continued the formal budget development process on Saturday, April 12 with a review of the district’s final state aid numbers and a presentation of the district’s proposed $24,954,000 budget for the 2014-15 school year. View the full budget presentation here (PDF).

During the third and final budget workshop presented to community members, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Lori Caplan and Business Manager Keith Heid discussed the $24.9 million budget proposal, which would increase overall spending by $1.45 million, or 6.1 percent, next year. They explained that the lion’s share of the spending increase, $1,078,000, is for debt service payments to finance the Phase IV facilities project, approved by voters in December 2011. This expenditure will be primarily offset by state building aid, Mr. Heid said.

Of the total spending increase, $374,000 or 1.7 percent, is for actual operating costs, such as utilities, instructional and support staff salaries and classroom supplies.

If approved by voters, the 2014-15 budget proposal will yield a projected 2.6 percent tax levy increase, the district’s maximum allowable tax levy, as determined by the state’s property tax “cap” formula.

New York State Assemblyman John McDonald joined the discussion during the April 12 workshop to share his thoughts on the final state budget, which included a boost in Foundation Aid for schools districts across the state. Watervliet will receive $523,641 in operating aid, which is more than district leaders had anticipated earlier this year following the release of Governor Cuomo’s executive budget.

“Over the past two years, the Legislature has provided careful restoration of state aid,” Assemblyman McDonald said, “still we know the state formula is not fair to small city schools.”

Assemblyman McDonald also shared that he was able to secure a legislative member item grant of $50,000 (also known as “bullet aid”) for Watervliet schools, which is additional funding from the Assembly and Senate, for the 2014-15 school year.

The increase in aid combined with cost-cutting measures taken in prior years, including the elimination in 2013-2014 of 11 full-time equivalent employees (teachers and support staff), nearly all modified sports teams, most extracurricular activities and contractual maintenance services, will allow the district to maintain current academic programs and staffing levels.

Even so, the increase falls short of allowing the district to restore any previous cuts to programs, staff or opportunities for students, with one exception: The 2014-15 budget proposal includes a shared service agreement with the Cohoes City School District for a limited summer school program that will help high school students remain on track to graduate.

The Watervliet Board of Education is expected to formally adopt the proposed 2014-15 school budget during its April 22 meeting. The annual budget vote and Board of Education election is set for Tuesday, May 20.