For immediate release from the
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Schools
April 9, 2009
BH-BL school board
approves 2009-10 budget with lowest increase in 40
BURNT HILLS: After more than four
months of work and three community forums, on April
7 Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Board of Education
members unanimously adopted a budget with the
district’s lowest percentage increase in 40 years.
The budget will now go before district voters at
the polls on May 19.
Board members adopted a
budget of $53,368,860 for the 2009-10 school year.
This is 2.16 percent higher than the current year’s
budget of $52,240,344, and will result in a tax levy
increase of 2.7 percent. “Both the budget-to-budget
increase and the tax increase are lower than any
year we have in our records, which go back to 1970,”
says superintendent Jim Schultz.
“Right from the beginning our
school board agreed this could not be a
business-as-usual budget,” he says. Given the
nation’s impending economic crisis, Schultz actually
began collecting cost-savings suggestions for the
budget from staff and residents last October. “The
focus throughout this process has been to cut costs
but to find ways to do that with the least damage to
programs for children,” he says.
In the end, the school board
cut preliminary 2009-10 staffing costs by over $1
million dollars by cutting positions and
reconfiguring how services will be delivered. This
includes the loss of one fifth grade teacher at the
Charlton Heights elementary school, one high school
special education teacher, a half time computer
assistant in each elementary school, two custodians,
one and a half security monitors, plus a number of
part time reductions in various departments. Taken
together, the staffing reductions add up to roughly
20 full time positions.
Savings were also realized by
reconfiguring delivery of some transportation,
substitute and business office services. Pay is
being decreased for summer school teachers, and
spending on furniture, equipment, computer repairs,
library materials, and maintenance will be cut back.
BH-BL plans to save $51,500
on interscholastic sports by eliminating its current
4th level teams in soccer and baseball, playing
fewer contests, buying no new uniforms in 2009-10,
and reorganizing schedules so that more teams can
travel to games together and reduce the number of
“Our staff have come up with
some really creative ways to save, “ notes Schultz,
“but I also know these reductions are going to cause
some pain, inconvenience and frustration for
parents, students and staff who are used to other
ways of doing things.”
Jacqueline St. Onge says that BH-BL will be
receiving no increase in state operating aid from
the current year. “No increase is tough, but it is
certainly better than the loss of $1.6 million in
aid we were facing before the Governor agreed to use
federal stimulus money to restore aid to schools,”
St. Onge expects that next
September’s school tax levy will need to increase by
2.7 percent to balance the proposed budget.
Specific tax increases for each of the district’s
four towns will not be known until August, she says,
when the state Office of Real Property Services
announces tax equalization rates.
The Board of Education only
decides on the overall tax levy and plays no role in
determining how much of the tax burden is placed on
any one town or property owner.
Other ballot items
The May 19 ballot will also
include candidates for three seats on the Board of
Education and a proposition to replace four school
buses at a cost not to exceed $350,000. The buses
being replaced are at least ten years old or have
been driven for more than 100,000 miles.
The board seats up for
election are currently held by Elizabeth Herkenham,
Patre Kuziak, and Michael Wolf. Kuziak had
submitted her petition for re-election, and Wolf has
announced he will not seek re-election.
Herkenham and three other
residents are currently working to complete
petitions for the board. The potential newcomers are
Don Brandt of Maple Avenue in Charlton, William
Farmer of Willow Lane in Glenville, and James
Maughan of Longcreek Extension in Burnt Hills. The
deadline for submitting board petitions is Monday,
All board members run at
large, so the three candidates receiving the most
votes will be elected.
A 12-page newsletter
describing the budget, bus proposition and
candidates will be mailed to BH-BL households on
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