On Tuesday, voters will weigh in on the second budget proposal for the Saugerties School District, carrying a price tag of $53.3 million. The budget proposal carries a tax levy increase of 6.38 percent.
The original $53.5-million proposal failed 1631 – 1369, a margin of around 262 votes. Some interpret this as a statement from voters that further cuts need to be made, even at the expense of the students.
The proposal comes in lower than amount that the board could have adopted as an austerity budget when voters rejected the $55.1 million proposal almost three weeks ago. However, if voters again reject the budget, by law, the board must adopt a lower spending plan.
Under austerity, certain purchases are not allowed, but the board has already removed these items from the budget. Therefore, the an austerity budget could be as little as one dollar lower. On the other hand, the board could opt to cut the budget further. There is no limit to low the budget could be, as long the district could continue to provide an education for its students, and meet all state mandates. This could mean the removal of any non-mandated classes or programs.
“If this budget does not pass, everything can and will be looked at,” said assistant superintendent Michael Apostol. Turner has urged the board on several occasions to be up front with voters about what may be at risk, but trustees have not shared any information on what might be cut, should the budget go down.
“Any further cuts would begin to affect student programs,” said Turner.
The $53.3 million budget keeps in place all classes and programs that are currently available to students. Much of the district’s athletic programs, along with some art, music, library, and extra-curricular programs will be funded next year through the federal jobs bill, which has provided just over $860,000 to the Saugerties School District.
Polls will be open at the four elementary schools from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., on Tuesday, June 21.
Some have interpreted the vote as a referendum on the amount of spending contained in an austerity budget, and, if this vote once again goes down, the message to the board would be to make further cuts.