HUDSON—The Hudson City School District’s budget proposal for the 2020-21 school year calls for spending 1.79% more than in the current school year and increasing the tax levy by 1.99%. But spending is contingent on state decisions, which are contingent on federal aid. District residents will will vote by absentee ballot on whether to approve the budget. Marked ballots must be received by 5 p.m. June 9 in order to be counted.
The proposal, which the Board of Education adopted May 19, calls for spending $50,052,213, of which $24.14 million would come from property taxes, $24.05 million from state aid, and about $2 million from miscellaneous sources.
The tax levy could have increased by as much as 2.43% under the state’s tax levy cap, but the board decided to raise the levy by only 1.99%, because district officials know “there are a lot of people struggling to pay their bills right now,” Business Administrator Jesse Boehme said by email May 26.
The ratio of tax revenue to state aid is close to 1.00 in the proposal and has been so in every school year since 2011-12. Before then, state aid usually noticeably exceeded tax revenue. But the $24.05-million state aid—estimated from the information available at the time the board completed the budget proposal—is subject to change.
“The governor is still talking about a 20% cut to schools if New York State doesn’t receive enough help from the federal government,” Mr. Boehme said.
Another uncertainty is how to re-engineer education for social distancing, increased screen time and low occupancy transportation, and how much taking these steps will cost.
Along with the budget, the school ballot will include the election of candidates for school board members. This years two terms are expiring and there are only two candidates on the ballot, both of whom are incumbents, according to board President Carrie Otty. The incumbents up for reelection are Sage Carter and Ms. Otty.
‘There are a lot of people struggling to pay their bills right now.’
Jesse Boehme, business administrator
Hudson City School District
A second proposition on the ballot proposes creation of a capital reserve fund. No funds are requested for that account.
Along with the budget comes an academic plan, presented by Superintendent of Schools Maria L. Suttmeier, which contains “no layoffs, unless the state takes away more money,” Ms. Otty said. The plan includes “budget savings” such as removing some budgeted open positions, “sharing services where feasible and practical,” and not replacing some retirees.
The academic plan continues Pre-Covid-19 aspirations. It includes maintaining, developing and improving: Two-year kindergarten; K-6 STEAM; K-8 AVID; Literacy and Math coaching; Music, Art, and high school electives; AP courses and college courses; An Alternate Transition Program for students who need an alternate path to graduation; career development; BOCES; extra-curricular activities and clubs; 2 school resource officers and 3 safety officers; class size parameters.
The academic plan also calls for: maintaining a fund balance at 4% of the total budget; forming a foundation for future budgets; building reserves for future expenses.
According to the academic plan, the budget aims for fiscally responsibility, academic soundness, and “sensitivity to social/emotional needs.”
One of the “new challenges” resulting from the Covid-19 crisis includes supporting mental health needs.
“We plan for what we’ve been told, but sometimes something happens we weren’t warned about, like state aid cuts,” said Ms. Otty.
If available funds cannot cover the planned program plus the new challenges, that could affect athletics, career preparation, non-mandated programs, and extracurricular programs, as well as class sizes, field trips, capital improvements and “salary increases for management.”