Gloversville school budget approved

GLOVERSVILLE – The Gloversville Enlarged School District Board of Education on Monday approved a proposed budget for the 2013-14 school year that calls for a tax-levy increase of 2 percent and an expansion of services.

The total budget, which is about $58.55 million, will be voted on by district residents May 21.

Steve Schloicka, assistant superintendent of the business office, said the projected 2013-14 budget total represents a roughly $3 million, or 3.3 percent, increase over the 2012-13 budget.

Schloicka said the district was able to prevent a larger increase by using available reserves and fund balance. He said the district has about $5 million left in the available fund balance.

Schloicka said the tax levy could have been about $14 million, which would be an increase of $500,000 – or roughly 4.34 percent – compared to the current tax levy.

However, he said, district officials didn’t want to put a burden on the taxpayers with a substantial increase and decided not to exceed a 2 percent tax-levy increase.

Superintendent Michael Vanyo said nearly 80 percent of the total budget increase came from yearly increases in salary and benefits of district employees.

The biggest expansion in services and programming would be for middle school students who would be able to receive high school credit.

The district would increase the business curriculum available by providing a keyboarding class to seventh-graders and computer applications to eighth-graders.

The district would bring a studio art class to the middle school, which would be offered as an elective for students, and bring back instrumental music lessons for fifth-graders. The district also would expand the engineering classes available through Project Lead the Way to middle school students.

Although the district is phasing out French classes, it would start teaching students Spanish earlier – in seventh grade.

Vanyo said the credits from these classes would count as high school credits.

“This will allow students that are ahead to get credits for high school early and will allow students who are struggling to have more electives and alternatives,” Vanyo said. “This is going to be a good thing for all students.”

Although the budget expands services and stays within the tax-levy cap, the board was not unanimous in its decision to pass it on to voters.

The board voted 5-3 for the budget. Board members Joe Andrews, Mike Hauser and Frank Carangelo voted against the budget proposal.

“This could be the best budget ever, and I don’t argue that, but we haven’t had the chance to discuss it,” Hauser said.

He said the board received the budget late on Friday and was put in a situation to vote on it on Monday, leaving little room to seek answers and look into the whole package.

Andrews said he voted against the budget because the district continues to spend more while the student population continues to decline.

Andrews said about 10 years ago, in the 2003-04 school year, the budget was about $34.14 million.

He said spending has increased more than 70 percent in 10 years while the student population has decreased.

Vanyo said the district is looking to improve the graduation rate and will have the board more involved in the budget process next year with a budget committee.

“We all heard last night the things that will be done for [next year’s] budget; what about this year?,” Andrews said. “Why would we not do those things this year? How can anyone accept not being involved in the process and voting yes to another multi-million dollar increased budget on Monday?”

Carangelo said he voted against the budget because it wasn’t doing enough to increase the students’ ability to read.

The district plans to add two additional reading teachers for sixth-grade students.

“We need to help students with reading more than just the sixth grade,” Carangelo said.