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Hilltown Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, June 16, 2011

Back to the polls on $21M budget

By Zach Simeone

On Tuesday, June 21, Berne-Knox-Westerlo residents will vote again on a proposed $21 million budget for next year. The same spending plan was defeated in May by a 28-vote margin.

BKW is expecting $8.7 million in state aid — $7.1 million in program aid, and $1.6 million in building aid — with an additional $384,463 in revenue coming from the federal education jobs fund, and $158,058 from gap elimination adjustment (GEA) restoration.

The proposed plan will use $1 million from the district’s unexpended fund balance, commonly referred to as its rainy-day fund. School districts, by law, can keep no more than 4 percent of the next year’s total budget in an unexpended fund balance.

Total costs for instruction at BKW were down by 5.3 percent, from $9.6 million this year, to $9.1 million in the proposed 2011-12 budget. Transportation costs, on the other hand, rose by 4 percent, from $1.53 million, to $1.6 million.

Employee benefits have increased by $608,605, from $5.7 million, to $6.3 million.

Also, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, this spring, certified amounts from districts’ employee benefits accrued liability reserves, or EBALR funds, that can be used by school districts to offset budget cuts; BKW, the only district in Albany County on DiNapoli’s list, will use $200,000 of its $494,224 reserve to fund next year’s budget.

EBALR funds go towards post-employment pay for accrued and unused sick leave, holiday leave, vacation leave, time allowance granted in lieu of overtime compensation, and other forms of leave time.

The budget also proposes the following staff cuts and reductions, saving a total of $240,370:

— Cutting a part-time English teacher who works eight-tenths of full-time, saving $63,348;

— Cutting a part-time math teacher who works six-tenths of full-time, saving $44,688;

— Cutting a part-time science teacher who works four-tenths of full-time, saving $19,962;

— Reducing a full-time social studies teacher to two-tenths of full-time, saving $12,516;

— Reducing a full-time math teacher to four-tenths of full-time, saving $19,962; and

— Cutting a full-time science position, saving $79,894. The board approved Sheila Martin’s leave of absence from this position on Monday, and she will not be replaced this year.

The budget also proposes to cut five junior varsity sports teams, saving a total of $12,958: boys’ and girls’ soccer, cheerleading, softball, and baseball.

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