Staff boosted in nearly $51M budget | Local

GLENS FALLS — The proposed Glens Falls City School District budget of $50.5 million will be decided by voters on Tuesday.

The budget, which is an increase of more than $2.5 million, or 5.57% over the previous year’s budget, would increase the tax levy by 3.16%, which meets the district’s tax cap.

Bobby Yusko, the district’s assistant superintendent for business, said that each year the budget is designed based on the needs of the district.

“We really try to focus on evaluating the needs and concerns of the students and the school community as a whole,” he said.

Yusko said that the most important thing is that the budget continues to support instructional programs and adding needed new positions.

The proposed budget will add a teaching position at the elementary level and three at the middle school level, as well as four new teacher aide and teaching assistant positions, and two new information technology positions to support the management and repair of student Chromebooks.

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An assistant principal position at the high school will also be added — which will be separate from the athletic director position — that will increase focus around academic, mental wellness and social-emotional efforts.

“We’re trying to focus some resources on new positions to address class size and make sure that the kids really are in a setting that is the most conducive for them to be successful,” Yusko said.

The budget would also create four new elementary teaching positions in the special education department, which would build on the inclusion model for learning designed by the district.

The model is designed to allow special education students to have the support they need while learning alongside students in general education classrooms.

“Really just trying to provide the students with the best opportunities I think is what drives the budget-to-budget increase,” Yusko said.

The tax levy would increase by $700,534, according to Yusko.

He said that the recent revaluation in the city changed a lot of assessed values of property. Yusko said that the tax rate per $1,000 of assessed valuation is set to decrease according to the tentative assessment.

According to the tentative assessment for next year, taxpayers would pay a rate of $15.51 per $1,000 of their property’s value, compared with $24.42 for the same assessed value this year.

“I think that is an important thing to highlight,” Yusko said. “Because people, especially if their properties are similarly assessed year-to-year, should see a tax decrease even though the overall levy is increasing.”

Along with the budget, voters will decide on two propositions. The first would lease new school buses to replace older ones as part of the district’s scheduled transportation maintenance plan.

The second proposition on the ballot would allow a member of the student body to serve as a non-voting representative on the Board of Education.

Yusko said that, since the COVID pandemic began, attendance at Board of Education meetings had gone down. He said that adding a student representative to the board would allow the student body to become more involved and engaged.

“I think that this will also serve as a way that there is more of a direct line of communication from the student body to the Board of Education, where a student representative might be able to communicate anything that the student body at the high school might feel is missing or needs to be addressed,” he said.

Voters will also decide on three Board of Education openings. The top two vote-getters will be for five-year terms, while the third-highest will fulfill the unexpired term of David Dawkins, which will end on June 30, 2024. Incumbents Matthew Levin and Jason Rivers are joined on the ballot by newcomers Randy Rath and Matthew Webster.

Voters can head to the polls at Sanford Street School on Tuesday from noon to 9 p.m.

Jay Mullen is a reporter for The Post-Star covering the city of Glens Falls, Warren County and crime and courts. You can reach him at 518-742-3224 or jmullen@poststar.com.

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