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New Scotland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, August 19, 2010
By Saranac Hale Spencer
VOORHEESVILLE School tax rates for property owners in the Voorheesville School District are going up in the town of New Scotland and down in the towns of Guilderland and Berne.
When the district presented its budget in March, it planned on a tax levy increase of 2.89 percent. The budget had remained, essentially, flat from the previous year, but, because of a decrease in the amount of state aid, the amount that needed to be collected in taxes, the tax levy, went up.
On Monday, the district’s board of education voted, 5 to 0, with two board members absent, to lower the tax levy by 1 percent by increasing the amount of the appropriated fund balance it will use. The district had originally planned on using $650,000, but after finding that New Scotland residents would face a 4.4-percent tax-rate increase, the board voted to use $800,000 from the appropriated fund balance to offset the hike.
That will result in a 3.36-percent increase in the rate per $1,000 of assessed value that New Scotland residents will pay, according to figures from Sarita Winchell, the assistant superintendent for business.
The neighboring towns of Guilderland and Berne, each of which are partly within Voorheesville’s school district, will have a decrease of 3.88 percent and 9.97 percent.
Residents of New Scotland will pay $17.73 per $1,000 of assessed value of their property, while Guilderland residents will pay $19.60 and Berne residents will pay $26.89.
While New Scotland’s equalization rate has stayed the same, at 94, from 2009 to 2010, the rate changed in Guilderland from 79.09 to 85.05 and in Berne from 54 to 62, according to the state’s Office of Real Property Tax Services, which calculates the equalizations rates each year.
“It is the change in a town's total market value, as reflected in the equalization rate, relative to the change in the market value of other municipalities in a taxing jurisdiction, such as a school district, that may cause a particular town's share of the tax levy to increase or decrease,” according to ORPS.
“We recognize that people would like to see that lower,” said school board President James Coffin, gesturing to the 3.36 percent increase. He explained that the district had to be responsible with its funds since the economic forecast remains bleak. “We don’t want to find ourselves with nothing in the bank,” he said.
In other business at its Aug. 16 meeting, the board:
Was asked about the status of a full-day kindergarten program, which had been discussed in previous years; the district currently has a half-day program. Coffin answered, “We are going to bring it back to the table,” and said that he expects the board to discuss it in September or October;
Accepted the resignations of Erin Upson, a music teacher; Ashley Hillard, a fourth-grade teacher; Stephanie Scaccia, a teaching assistant; Robert E. Fuglein, a bus driver; and Susanne Hudacs, the Model United Nations co-advisor;
Appointed Natalie Cassala as a high school Spanish teacher and Carolyn Losee as a kindergarten teacher on step 2 of the teachers’ union contract with a probationary period of three years;
Appointed Joelle Lydon as a high school Spanish teacher on step 14 of the teachers’ union contract;
Appointed Sandra Riggin as a high school Spanish teacher on step 15 of the teachers’ union contract;
Appointed Laura Pasquali as a long-term substitute to replace Melissa Jordan during her leave from Sept. 1 through Oct. 15;
Appointed Liesl Bailey as a long-term substitute-teaching assistant in the elementary school to replace Erin Everett during her leave from Sept. 1 through Oct. 1;
Appointed Kristen Hanlon as a teaching assistant in the high school on step 5 of the teachers’ union contract with a one-year probation period;
Appointed Susan Fry and Jill Raymond as teachers’ aids;
Appointed Brian Stumbaugh as the “District Technology Monday Coordinator” for a salary of $2,500;
Appointed Matthew Robinson as the director of the fall production;
Appointed Wayne Manchester and Matthew Robinson as coordinators of the Lydia C. Tobler Performing Arts Center for the coming school year to be paid $1,400 each;
Appointed Colleen Brackett as the medical chaperone for “athletic contests,” to be compensated according to the teachers’ union contract;
Appointed Robert Fuglein as a substitute bus driver;
Approved a field trip for the eighth-grade class to go to New York City at a cost of $65 per student;
Heard from high school principal Imran Abbasi that the school is exploring a program called “parent portal,” which allows teachers to post test scores to a website that parents can check;
Recognized Georgina Bills and Robert Fuglein for their service;
Established a “task force to examine drug and alcohol practices in the Voorheesville School District and community.” It will be co-chaired by Abbasi and athletic director Joseph Sapienza and will include three board members Timothy Blow, Kristine Gravino, and Lisa Henkel. The meetings of the task force will be public so that members of the community can participate, Abbasi said;
Accepted a donation of $1,010 for the elementary school from LifeTouch Photography; and
Discussed parking problems at the elementary school, which have persisted over years. The problem is primarily with parking during non-school events on the athletic fields, Coffin said. The board discussed encouraging people to park at nearby Saint Matthew’s Church and walk to the school. Altamont Elementary school principal Peter Brabant began a program last year where he would meet students in the village park and walk with them to school.
“We have to fix this before someone gets hurt,” Coffin said of the parking problem, which sometimes clogs emergency access to the school.
The board discussed encouraging the Albany County Sheriff’s department to ticket parking violators and decided to pursue posting “no parking” signs in some areas.