Hudson school officials make case for annual budget

HUDSON—City School District (HCSD) Superintendent Lisamarie Spindler and Business Administrator Jesse Boehme reviewed and summarized the proposed 2022-23 budget at the April 26 and May 3 school board meetings. The proposed new budget calls for spending $54,125,024, 3.6% higher than for 2021-22. it will go into effect only if voters pass it on May 17.

Under this budget there will be no lay offs, and the HCSD will replace all retirees, hire more teachers and support staff, and add a second pre-kindergarten class.

Mark DePace, vice president of the board, wondered what to say if a member of the public asked why the budget is increasing while enrollment is decreasing.

Dr. Spindler and Mr. Boehme pointed out that though the budget is increasing by 3.6%, the tax levy is increasing by only 2%. Reasons for the budget increase include 11 new instructional positions, as well as cost increases for out-of-district special education, bus drivers and teacher retirement contributions. The new instructional positions include teachers, teaching assistants, and teacher aides for Civics, Special Education, pre-kindergarten, 2-year kindergarten, and Credit Recovery.

Wayne Kinney, president of the Hudson Teacher’s Association (HTA) and a science teacher at Hudson High School said the HTA supports this budget “because there are no cuts.” He said when people tell him he supports the budget because he wants a raise, he tells them, “whether they vote yes or no doesn’t affect my raise. My salary depends on contracts. If you vote the budget down, it effects the kids.”

Mr. Kinney, who lives in the Kinderhook School District, also said that people who think their taxes are too high should compare them with other districts.

For the sixth straight year, the HCSD tax levy will increase by less than allowed amount, even though this will reduce tax revenue potential long term. Not increasing taxes to the full extent is a risk, to give property owners a tax break.

Dr. Spindler and Mr. Boehme graphed what the HCSD’s tax revenue could have been had the tax levy been raised by the allowed maximum in all the previous years.

Dr. Spindler noted, “History repeats itself,” state aid can drop, and in the past when that has happened, “the local share had to increase.” Right now, “we are going into our reserves in order to keep tax increases lower.” If that happens repeatedly, however, reserve could go down “like a snowball,” Dr. Spindler and Mr. Boehme said.

In recent years, the HCSD and almost all other local districts have approved their budgets. But if voters reject the budget, they will have a chance to vote on it again in June. And if they still reject it, the district will have to adopt a contingency budget with no tax increases. “Hopefully, we’ll never have to do it,” said Mr. Boehme. If they did, the District would have to cancel new classes and capital projects.

On May 17 the voters will also elect school board members. This year there are five open seats and four candidates: Willette Jones, Mark DePace, Lakia Walker, and Kjirsten Gustavson. The first three are incumbents. Ms. Jones is currently president of the board and Mr. DePace is currently vice president. The fifth opening will have to be filled by write-in. Mr. Kinney said that he would like to see a retired teacher on the board.

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