All budget meetings are open to the public.
May 17, 2016—Glens Falls City School District residents approved the 2016-17 school budget today by a margin of 645 "yes" votes to 96 “no” votes – an 87 percent approval rate. The $41.4 million spending plan will increase the tax levy by 0.96 percent, and represents a budget-to-budget spending increase of $1.7 million or 4.29 percent from the current year. The approved, structurally-balanced budget builds upon the district’s current educational program with additions in technology and academic programming.
Debra Stockdale and Kristin Greenwood were elected to the Board of Education. Each will begin a five-year term on July 1, 2016, after receiving 427 and 411 votes, respectively. Candidates Matthew Levin and Tony Nassivera received 325 and 236 votes, respectively.
“The community’s support for our schools is essential to the success of our students,” said Superintendent Paul Jenkins. “We don’t take that support lightly, and are always working to provide our school community with the best possible return on investment.”
The 2016-17 budget includes additional staff positions in elementary instruction and special education, along with BOCES-aidable classroom Chromebooks for students in grades 5 and 6. Those investments make up most of the $1.7 million increase in year-over-year spending.
The Board of Education put the spending plan before voters after an open budget development process that included Audit and Finance committee work sessions that began in late winter.
May 4, 2016—Residents in the Glens Falls City School District will decide on a $41.4 million budget proposal for the 2016-17 school year on Tuesday, May 17. Voting takes place from noon to 9 p.m. in the Sanford Street School gym.
The months-long budget development process resulted in a plan that increases spending by $1.7 million or 4.29 percent from the current year. The district’s tax levy would increase by 0.96 percent, which is the district’s maximum allowable without a supermajority vote.
The 2016-17 plan builds upon the district’s current educational program with additions in technology and academic programming. Those investments—which include additional staff positions in elementary instruction and special education, along with BOCES-aidable classroom Chromebooks for students in grades 5 and 6—make up most of the $1.7 million increase in year-over-year spending.
The proposal also:
The spending plan was influenced most heavily by the New York State Legislature’s restoration of $728,640 in funding lost to the Gap Elimination Adjustment—a mechanism introduced in 2010 to reclaim part of every school district’s aid in order to balance the state budget as a whole.
“We’re confident that this budget will meet both the
academic and the developmental needs of our students,” said
Superintendent Paul Jenkins. “Our students are responding to
high and evolving standards. This budget provides
them with solid supports, while remaining fiscally responsible to local taxpayers and staying within the property tax cap.”
The budget was adopted by the Board after an open process that included Audit and Finance Committee work sessions that began in February. Materials from each meeting can be found in the sidebar to the right.
All public schools in New York State are required to report appropriations in three official categories: program, capital, and administrative. The following data shows how Glens Falls’ budget breaks down under this formula:
This year, voters will make their choice on the budget and Board of Education candidates by paper ballot and an optical scan machine—instead of the mechanical pull-lever machines of the past.
The optical scan ballots are required under the federal Help America Vote Act. Through 2015, New York State had granted a waiver to school districts that allowed use of the pull-lever machines.
Now, voters will cast their ballots in school budget votes the same way they cast ballots in November elections—using a pen to fill in bubbles on a ballot, and then inserting the ballot into the scanning machine.
The Board of Education of the Glens Falls City School District is made up of nine members who are elected by qualified voters of the district. They serve without pay for five-year terms. The Board of Education, in serving its role as trustee of the district's five schools (three elementary, one Middle School, and one High School), is responsible for the development of the policy through which the Superintendent administers the educational program, the students, and the staff.
This May, voters will have the opportunity to elect two community members to the Glens Falls City Schools Board of Education. There are four candidates running for two seats:
Mrs. Greenwood, of 5 Elizabeth Street, is seeking her first term on the Board of Education. She raises her two children, and is a volunteer with several community organizations.
"I would like to be a member of the Glens Falls City Schools Board of Education because I wish to contribute to this important part of our community. I have been a PTSA officer at Sanford St., Big Cross, and GF Middle School, as well as a High School PTSA member. I am also a very active Glens Falls Little League Board Member. I have attended many GFSD Board meetings over the years, and now that my children are in the Middle and High School, I feel I have had enough experience to make well informed decisions. I have seen our district go through many challenges over the years, and hope to help ensure GFSD continues to provide the excellent education it always has."
Mr. Levin, of 8 Ames Place, is seeking his first term on the Board of
He is an Engineering Systems and Process Manager at General Electric.
"My children will be 3rd generation graduates of the GFSD. The education I received at Glens Falls positively impacted me. By serving on the board, I hope to continue this effect on future students. I have experience serving on boards, exposing me to the give and take needed for a board to reach its goals. During my career at GE I have seen firsthand the demand for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education. However, I prefer STEAM (encompassing arts) in order to ensure students get the well-rounded education they need for future success. I look forward to working with the other board members, with the objective of creating the best learning environment for all students."
Mrs. Stockdale, of 8 Coolidge Avenue, is seeking her first term on the Board of Education. She is Finance Manager at Warren Washington Association for Mental Health, Inc.
"My primary goal in running for the Board of Education
is to help ensure that students, faculty, and staff have the
support and resources they need to be successful, while
balancing the need to be fiscally responsible with taxpayer
I also hope to collaborate with the Glens Falls Common Council and Mayor to improve our neighborhoods and encourage more families to buy homes in the district. I am a life-long resident of Glens Falls, have a BBA in Accounting from Siena College, and have over 20 years’ experience in not-for-profit accounting.
I served as Treasurer for the Sanford St. PTA for two years and have been attending GFSD Board and Budget meetings for the past seven years."
Mr. Nassivera, of 36 Fort Amherst Road, is seeking his first term on the Board of Education. He is a History Teacher/Athletics Coach at Hudson Falls Central School District.
"We need transformative leaders in our schools. We need
school leaders who promote the learning and growth of all
students by cultivating a strong culture of teaching and
learning, setting ambitious goals, and ensuring that teachers
have the resources, training, and support to achieve them.
Times are constantly
changing. Ultimately, it is the school board that sets the tone in developing new strategies and insights to confront our district’s toughest obstacles and take advantage of available opportunities. Having proudly watched my two children be guided through Glens Falls schools, and taught for 20 years, I hope to push our district forward as a member of the school board."
January 26, 2016 — Last week’s release of the final Consumer Price Index for 2015 showed growth of just 0.12 percent—twelve hundredths of one percent. While many were quick to jump on this figure as “the limit” for tax levy growth, a closer look at the tax cap calculation shows the 0.12 percent figure as just one of many complicated—and in many instances, fluid—factors in the mix of the law.
“The tax cap was originally marketed, and largely understood, as a ‘two percent cap,’” the statewide School Business Officials group notes. “But the law actually reads ‘the lesser of two percent or the inflation factor’ and now for three years in a row [this figure in] the tax cap has been below two percent.”
The CPI figure surely affects the eight-part calculation of a school district’s property tax cap, but it’s only one of the key figures necessary to arrive at the final “cap,” explains business director Bobby Yusko. (see graphic, below left)
“For Glens Falls, other pieces of the tax cap calculation have a greater effect on our tax cap than the CPI figure,” says Mr. Yusko. “Since we’re still receiving building aid on our science and technology capital project, those exclusions are having a stronger impact on our tax cap than the CPI.”
Early projections put Glens Falls’ maximum allowable levy increase near zero, but the district is awaiting some finalized figures from the state.
Once the calculation is complete, school district tax levy increases are limited to the calculated percentage for 2016, unless voters approve a budget with at least a 60 percent supermajority to override the tax cap.
“It was never a two percent tax cap,” says superintendent Paul Jenkins, “and many districts around the region will need a supermajority vote just to approve a one- or two-percent increase in their tax levy. Our basic operating costs rise by more than that each year.”
Revenue from property taxes makes up fully half (50.26 percent) of Glens Falls City School District’s annual budget. State education aid accounts for 43.28 percent of revenues, while other funding sources contribute the rest (6.46 percent).
The district’s current-year property tax levy is $19,961,153. The state aid figure for 2016-17 remains a moving target, as Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget proposal released Jan. 13 is now being debated by legislators. The state budget—and with it, finalized state aid figures—is due to be approved by the NYS Legislature by April 1.
“The nearly zero growth in the tax cap will limit budget options for school and municipal officials as they plan for next year,” said Comptroller DiNapoli in a press release confirming the CPI figure.
“Districts are now simply trying to keep up with the basic costs of delivering their current educational programs, let alone increasing services,” agreed Mr. Jenkins.
A more detailed explanation of the tax cap calculation can be found in the reference materials below.
Although often referred to as a “2 percent tax cap,” New York’s new tax levy “cap” law does not restrict any proposed tax levy increase to 2 percent. Pursuant to the law, each school district must follow an 8-step calculation, outlined here, to calculate its individual “tax levy limit.” That limit then determines what level of voter support is required for budget approval.
The law's Allowable Growth Factor "2 percent" figure is actually calculated as "2 percent or the change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), whichever is lower." Districts have been advised that the starting point for the tax levy cap calculation for the 2016-17 budget year will be 0.12%, because "the Average Annual Change in the CPI for 2015 was 0.12%, making the Allowable Levy Growth Factor for the 2016-17 Tax Levy Limit 0.12%." [source: State Aid Planning]