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Who creates the school budget?

School administrators develop a budget in coordination with the Budget Review and Advisory Committee, the Board of Education and members of the community.

Is the property tax cap really 2 percent?

No. Each school district is required to calculate their unique property tax cap using an eight step formula provided by New York State. Some school districts will have a tax cap higher than two percent and others will have a tax cap lower than two percent dependent upon the values of all eight factors in their school calculation. The only factor in the entire calculation relating to two percent is the inflationary factor, which is a maximum of 2 percent or the consumer price index. The entire tax cap formula is posted on the District website.

What is the breakdown of district costs?

The preliminary 2016-2017 budget issued on March 2, 2016 has the following breakdown:

48.4%  Employee Salaries & Compensation
29.1%  Employee Benefits
8.2%  Debt Service and Transfers
6.9%  Contractual and Tuition Payments
5.4%  BOCES Services
2.0%  Equipment and Materials

What is the connection of the state pension funds to Wall Street?

Each year, the state pension funds calculate how much money is required in order to pay future pension obligations to retirees. The pension funds have three main sources of funding:

  1. required payroll contributions from members
  2. required contributions from employers
  3. dividends and returns on investments such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.

When the performance of investments listed on Wall Street is poor, the pension funds increase the required contributions from employers such as schools, so that future obligations to retirees will be appropriately funded. When the performance of Wall Street investments improves, the pension funds decrease the required contributions from employers. For example, the employer contribution rate for the New York State Teachers Retirement System (TRS) was set at 13.26% of payroll for 2015-2016. However, this employer contribution rate is expected to be 11.72% of payroll for 2016-2017, an 11.6% decrease.

What are mandates?

Mandates are a list of services that New York State requires school districts to provide. There is no one definitive, comprehensive listing of all mandates impacting school districts in New York State. Information on mandates is posted on the District website at

What portion of the budget relates to mandated costs?

The District prepares its budget and related accounts in accordance with guidance provided by the Office of the State Comptroller, rather than mandated and non-mandated components. Time is not available to subdivide the approximate 900 budget line items into mandated and non-mandated components. However, we believe that the mandated portion is about 92% to 94% of the overall general fund budget.

What is the cost of sports and the percentage of kids that participate?

The preliminary budget presented to the Board of Education on March 2, 2016 shows an anticipated cost for interscholastic athletics of $567,966, not including administrative oversight, secretarial support and transportation. The Director of Physical Education, Health and Athletics has reported that 1,268 students participated in sports during the 2014-2015 school year. (Note: a student participating in more than one sport is counted more than once.)

What do community groups/boosters already do to support our district?

Community groups, booster clubs, Parent-Teacher Organizations (PTO), and the East Greenbush Education Foundation support the school district by providing guest speakers for classes, mentorship opportunities, and financial donations to support students and school programs. In 2014-2015, the District received over $32,700 in direct donations to the general fund for programs and operations.

What can I do, how can I help?

Listed below are some examples of how to support your public schools:

  1. Serve as a volunteer during the day or evening.
  2. Remember to exercise your right to vote on May 17, 2016. If you are unsure how to register to vote or how to find the voting locations, please contact the Business Office at 207-2535.
  3. Attend a school board meeting or budget workshop to become informed about what is happening in your schools.
  4. Consider serving as a Board of Education member.
  5. Attend one of the many events during the school year.
  6. Advocate on behalf of public schools to your state and federal legislators. Resources and information on how to take action are posted on the District website.

How do I advocate to the legislators and governor in Albany?

The District maintains information on its Advocacy page of the website to assist community members who would like to contact elected officials about the impact state legislation is having on public schools.

Where should I vote on May 17, 2016?

The school district is divided into election zones as follows:

  1. Bell Top – Residents of the Town of North Greenbush
  2. Goff – Residents of the Town of East Greenbush
  3. Donald P. Sutherland – Residents of the Towns of Sand Lake or Chatham or Residents with a Nassau mailing address
  4. Green Meadow – Residents of the Town of Schodack who do not have a Nassau mailing address

If you are still unsure as to where to vote, please call the Business Office for clarification at 207-2535.

What happens if the budget vote goes down?

If the proposed budget is defeated on May 17, 2016, the Board of Education will have three choices:

  1. Submit the same budget to the voters on June 21, 2016
  2. Submit a revised budget to the voters on June 21, 2016
  3. Adopt a contingent budget for 2016-2017 in accordance with State regulations

Based on the preliminary budget as of March 2, 2016, a contingent budget would require the Board of Education to make cuts approximating $3.6 million in non-mandated programs and activities.

If the budget is passed, how much will my taxes go up?

The District cannot predict with certainty how much an individual property owner’s taxes will go up or down if the school budget is passed. The school budget only contains information on the tax levy, or how much will be collected in total from all the taxpayers in the school district.

The preliminary budget presented to the Board of Education on March 2, 2016 shows a projected 7.15% increase in the tax levy for next year. An individual’s property tax bill next year will be dependent upon the final budget tax levy amount, how much of the tax levy is allocated to a particular town, how the levy is allocated among residential and commercial properties, the individual property’s assessed value and market (full) value, and qualifying exemptions on the property.

Could you define acronyms in the budget materials?

403(b) – A voluntary retirement savings plan for employees authorized by the Internal Revenue Code.
ALP – (Alternate Learning Program) – An offsite part or full day instructional program conducted by BOCES for students in grades 10-12.
AV – (Audio-Visual) – Technology equipment used in school district classrooms and programs.
BAN – (Bond Anticipation Note) – A temporary method to borrow monies by school districts in anticipation of permanent borrowing, such as bonds.
BOCES – (Board of Cooperative Educational Services) – An organization that provides shared programs among two or more school districts.
BT – (Bell Top Elementary School)
CASB – (Capital Area School Boards) – An organization providing professional development and support to school board members in the greater Capital Region.
CASDA – (Capital Area School Development Association) – An organization that provides professional development, services and support to school districts in the greater Capital Region.
CC – (Cross Contract) – A method for schools within one BOCES region to obtain shared services from another BOCES.
CEG – (Citizen Edmond Genet Elementary School)
CHS – (Columbia High School)
CPSE – (Committee on Preschool Education) – A school committee that designates programs and services for certain preschoolers with special needs.
CSE – (Committee on Special Education) – A school committee that designates programs and services for students with special needs.
CSEA – (Civil Service Employees Association) – A bargaining unit representing employees in the transportation, operations and maintenance and food service departments.
CTE – (Career & Technical Education)
DPS – (Donald P. Sutherland Elementary School)
DW – (District-wide)
EGAA – (East Greenbush Administrators Association) – An administrative bargaining unit representing the building principals, assistant principals, directors, and assistant directors.
EGOTSA – (East Greenbush Operations & Technical Supervisors Association) – A bargaining unit representing the supervisors of the accounting, school food services, operations and maintenance, and transportation departments.
EGTA – (East Greenbush Teachers Association) – A bargaining unit representing school teachers, guidance counselors, social workers, psychologists, and therapists.
ERATE – A program providing financial discounts on school and library telecommunication services, and internet access.
ERS – (New York State and Local Employees Retirement System) – A New York State agency that manages pension benefits for most State, municipal, and school employees.
FICA – (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) – A payroll tax on employees and employers used to support the Social Security System.
FTE – (Full Time Equivalent) – The decimal representation of an employee’s position in a school.  An individual who is employed full-time is listed as a 1.0 FTE; an individual who is employed half-time is listed as a 0.5 FTE.
GASB – (Government Accounting Standards Board) – An independent organization that provides accounting standards and guidance to governmental entities such as school districts.
GEA – (Gap Elimination Adjustment) – A New York State reduction of state aid due to school districts based on budgetary constraints.
GM – (Green Meadow Elementary School)
HLG – (Howard L. Goff Middle School)
IDEA – (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) – A federal law that governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education, and related services to children with disabilities.
IEP – (Individualized Education Program) – A written document describing how a student learns, how a student demonstrates that learning and what teachers and service providers will do to help a student learn more effectively.
IRS – (Internal Revenue Service) – A federal agency with the responsibility to oversee the collection of income taxes.
LPN – (Licensed Practical Nurse) – An individual licensed by the state to provide healthcare services to sick individuals.
N* – (Northeast Regional Information Center or NERIC) – A division of Capital Region BOCES that provides technology support and services to school districts in upstate New York.
NESS – (New England Systems & Software) – An organization providing consultation to schools in the area of technology.
NWEA – (Northwest Evaluative Association)
NY – (New York State)
NYSMEC – (New York Municipal Energy Consortium) – A BOCES program that allows school districts to access favorable rates for purchasing energy services.
NYSSBA – (New York State School Boards Association) – A statewide organization that provides professional development, training, support and advocacy services for school board members.
PD – (Professional Development) – Courses and training designed to improve and enhance employee work skills.
PILOT – (Payment in Lieu of Tax) – Some commercial property owners are granted an exemption from full taxes by the Rensselaer County Industrial Development Agency.  A property owner with this exemption makes payments to the school known as a PILOT since it is not the value of a full tax payment.
PPS – (Pupil Personnel Services) – A school district department that provides services in the areas of special education, psychology, social work, health, and guidance.
Q*3 – (Questar III BOCES) – An organization that provides shared services to school districts in Rensselaer, Columbia and Greene Counties.
RM – (Red Mill Elementary School)
RTI – (Response to Intervention) – A method of early, systematic assistance to children who are having difficulty learning.
SED – (State Education Department) – A New York State agency responsible for regulatory oversight and guidance for almost 700 school districts.
STAR – (School Tax Relief Program) – A New York State program allowing partial exemptions from school taxes for residential property owners based on income and age.
T/A – (Teaching Assistant) – School employees who work closely with and help certified teachers.
TRS – (New York State Teachers Retirement System) – A New York State agency that manages pension benefits for school teachers and administrators.
WAN – (Wide-Area Network) – A communications network that uses electronic devices to span a large geographic area.