School district residents head to the polls Tuesday

Posted at: 05/20/2013 5:54 PM
Updated at: 05/20/2013 6:24 PM
By: Beth Wurtmann

SOUTH COLONIE- "The old axiom no news is good news, I guess we're living with that right now," said Tim Kremer, Executive Director of the New York State School Boards Association.

No news, Kremer said, meaning no outcries or big rallies against proposed school budget votes slated for tomorrow. A far cry from last year, when the property tax cap went into effect, leading to lay-offs, program cuts and school closures.

"There have been cuts and such, but slowly we're creeping back. Last year we got state aid, this year we get additional state aid of a billion dollars," he said.

But the increase wasn't enough for South Colonie schools, which is putting a budget before voters that exceeds the cap. The tax levy increase of 4.98% closes an eight-million-dollar gap, reduces spending and combines modified sports. It also cuts 90-95 positions.

"We lost some outstanding people who are some of our younger employees, its difficult because they show great potential. We hope sometime to get those people back but it will be a challenge," said John Buhner, Superintendent.

South Colonie is one of 27 districts statewide asking voters to override the tax cap, requiring a super majority of 60% plus one vote to pass.

Buhner said along with the cuts it's also a budget that preserves quality programs like art, AP and engineering courses.

"Things will look a little different but for the most part, we've worked hard to protect key opportunities for our kids," Buhner added.