District residents have the final say on the annual school budget when they vote in May. Prior to that vote, several steps and a lot of work must take place to craft a balanced budget proposal.
The Schalmont Board of Education, comprised of elected volunteers from the community, sets goals for education in the district. This helps the district measure its success in relation to meeting community and state education standards. The school board and superintendent use them to guide the budget process and to help prioritize budget items.
The district's five year strategic plan, Schalmont Advance 2018, targets five strategic goals related to the areas of academics, professional development, family/community partnerships, safety, and business and support operations. Learn more about the strategic plan
An important part of planning for the future is reflecting on the past. Early in the budget process, the school board and superintendent review data on current student enrollment, academic performance, and costs to operate the district, including employee salaries and benefits. They also consider trends in the costs of supplies (e.g., fuel, electricity, food) and outside services (e.g., BOCES programs).
The school board and administrators regularly research educational trends and state and federal education standards. They also research college and job market trends that could impact future graduates. Throughout the school year, various administrators deliver presentations at board meetings to help board members stay abreast of school programs and activities.
Building a budget is not just about expenses, so the school board and superintendent also research revenue trends. That means looking at trends in state aid, researching changes in the local tax base and the challenges facing residents and business owners who provide the funds for the school tax levy.
The superintendent typically delivers a draft budget proposal after the governor presents an executive budget proposal in late winter. The superintendent's proposal is the culmination of several months' worth of reviewing and researching. That proposal goes before a Budget Advisory Committee (BAC), which consists of 10-12 community volunteers who review it during several meetings between November and March. They ask questions and share residents' perspective on the budget before it moves to a final proposal.
The BAC is not the only way for community members to have input on the proposal. All residents are encouraged to participate in the budget development process. Consider attending BAC meetings, budget forums, board meetings, and exploring this website to learn more about the budget. Residents are encouraged to ask questions and share their thoughts about the proposal.
From February through March, the school board and superintendent review BAC and community feedback on the initial budget proposal. Budget elements that are legal requirements (e.g., employee contracts, state mandated special educations services) generally cannot be adjusted, but some budget areas may be adjusted based on that feedback. A final budget proposal is then formally presented to the community in April.
Perhaps the most important step in the process is the annual school budget vote. The next vote will be held on Tuesday, May 17, 2016, from 6 a.m. â€“ 9 p.m. in the Schalmont High School New Gym Lobby, 1 Sabre Drive, Schenectady.
Historically, a very small percentage of the Schalmont community has determined the outcome of the budget vote. The district includes more than 7,500 households from the towns of Rotterdam, Duanesburg, Princetown, and Florida, but less than 1,200 people voted in each of the last two budget votes. Every vote is important, so find out if you are eligible to vote this May.