Select Page

FAQ: 2020-21 Budget Process

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. Since the Consumer Price Index was 1.81% for 2019, the inflationary factor in the formula is limited to 1.81%. The entire tax cap formula is posted on the District website.

What is the breakdown of district costs?
The preliminary 2020-21 budget issued on March 11, 2020 had the following breakdown:

50.9% Employee Salaries & Compensation
27.4% Employee Benefits
  7.0% Debt Service and Transfers
  6.2% Contractual and Tuition Payments
  6.1% BOCES Services
  2.4% 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: required payroll contributions from members, required contributions from employers, and 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 often decrease the required contributions from employers. Additionally, the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) Board may adjust the expected rate of return on investments, which has an inverse impact on required employer contributions. The employer contribution rate for the New York State Teachers Retirement System (TRS) in 2020-2021 has been preliminarily set at 9.53% payroll as compared to 8.86% in 2019-2020, a 7.56% increase in cost prior to expected changes in compensation.

What is mandated?
There is no one definitive, comprehensive listing of all mandates impacting school districts in New York State. Click here to learn more.

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 11, 2020 shows an anticipated cost for interscholastic athletics of $704,274, not including administrative oversight, secretarial support, and transportation. The Director of Physical Education, Health and Athletics has reported that approximately 1,400 students participated in sports during the 2018-2019 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. As of March 9, 2020, the District has received over $19,252 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 19, 2020. If you are unsure how to register to vote or how to find the voting locations, please contact the Business Office at 518-207-2535.
  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 webpage 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 19, 2020?
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 518-207-2535.

What happens if the budget vote goes down?
If the proposed budget is defeated on May 19, 2020, the Board of Education will have three choices:

  1. Submit the same budget to the voters on June 16, 2020
  2. Submit a revised budget to the voters on June 16, 2020
  3. Adopt a contingent budget for 2020-21 in accordance with State regulations

Based on the preliminary budget as of March 11, 2020, a contingent budget would require the Board of Education to make cuts approximating $5.0 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 11, 2020 shows a projected 3.99% increase in the tax levy for next year. (We estimate that the actual increase will be much lower once the budget process has concluded.)  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.