HUDSON—School District officials presented a proposed budget for the 2021-22 school year to the Board of Education at meetings April 13 and 20. The proposed budget of $52 million, with a 1.35% tax levy increase, faces voters in the school elections of May 18. The election will also include three board seats.
The proposal calls for state aid covering $25.3 million (48.4%) of the total, with local taxes contributing $24.5 million (46.8%), and other sources covering 4.8%. The total $52.2 million is 3.08% higher than the current budget and the tax levy 1.35% higher. The revenue sources are in line with previous years: about 95% divided almost evenly between state aid and local taxes.
Of the state aid, several categories depending on school enrollment will stay separate, despite proposals to combine them all into one category called “service aid,” reported school district Business Administrator Jesse Boehme approvingly.
The 2021-22 Academic Plan calls for spending 51% on teaching and student services, 23% on employee benefits, 10% on debt service, 7% on transportation, and 9% on other items.
The new tax levy could have been as much as 1.56% higher.
One expenditure that is increasing is transportation. In the 2019-20 budget it was $2.59 million, only about 5% of the total budget. The following year it dropped, because of the sudden halt of in-person schooling in March 2020. For 2020-21, with hybrid models, transportation expenses are expected to total about $3.06 million. And for 2021-22, the estimated expense is $3.43 million, an increase of 12%. The reason for these increases is that more bus runs are needed to take the fewer students to school where they follow social distancing rules. And next school year more students are expected to come to school in person than this school year.
One cost that will stay about the same will be regular school teaching and supervision, Superintendent Maria L Suttmeier pointed out. Several retiring teachers and other staff will not be replaced. The 2021-22 budget calls for spending $14.17 million, only about half a percent higher than the 2020-21 budget, on these items. Dr. Suttmeier reported that this year several long-serving teachers and staff were offered an incentive to retire.
The new tax levy could have been as much as 1.56% higher than this year, but Mr. Boehme thought it best to give taxpayers a break because this year has been such a strain. However, as Dr. Suttmeier said, this reduces the base for future budgets, because the tax levies will also be constrained.
Mr. Boehme asked the board for feedback on the 1.35% proposal, and board members agreed with it. The 2021-22 will be the fifth straight year that the Hudson City School District’s tax levy will increase by less than its allowable amount.
The budget’s goals, according to the Academic Plan, include: “support Future Focused” objectives; “apply efficiencies and cost savings”; build reserves for future budgets; and “maintain and improve” several specific programs. The three goals of the Future Focused’s approach are: Achieve Academic Excellence, Become Future Ready, and Commit to Civic Engagement. The specific programs include kindergarten, art and music, high school electives, Advanced placement (AP) courses, sports, clubs, STEAM, AVID, the Alternate Learning Program, and BOCES services.
Three School Board seats are up for election on May 18. Two seats will be for three years; one will be for one year. Nominating petitions were due to the District Clerk April 27.