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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Budget update

Question: Last year at this time, we were in the midst of a difficult budget process. The district did a good job with the public forums informing the taxpayers as to the tough situation our district faced. At the time we were warned that the next year's budget would be just as difficult. My question is, where do we stand as a district in formulating next year's budget and what tough choices are being contemplated at this time, including the progress on negotiations with the teachers' union?

Answer: Our budget situation is different this year than in the past because of changes made at the state level. Our state aid and our local property tax levy -- Broadalbin-Perth's primary sources of revenue -- have, for the most part, already been determined. Because of this, our budget situation is fairly black and white -- I encourage you to read the letter I sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this month to learn about the cuts we will have to make if our situation remains the same.

In previous years, we've gone to the public to gather input and feedback before making important budget decisions. This year, unfortunately, Broadalbin-Perth has virtually no choices to make. It's no longer a question of cutting this program or that program -- our budget gap is so large that we will have to cut nearly all non-mandated programs in order to fill it.

That being said, we still value the community's input about the budget and encourage everyone in our school district to get involved with the budget development process -- the board still believes in operating with transparency. Email the Board of Education with your questions, concerns and suggestions, and attend board meetings. We also encourage you to join us in advocating for changes at the state level that will help us mitigate the severity of the cuts we're facing; visit our Advocacy Tools page on our district website.

As for the final part of your question, regarding negotiations with the Broadalbin-Perth Teachers' Association (BPTA), yes, we are currently in the process of negotiating a new contract. Both sides of this negotiation -- the district and the union -- are interested in preserving programs for B-P students and containing costs, both over the short-term and long-term. New York State laws governing the relationships between public employees and their employers restrict what either party can say publicly during the negotiations process, but we can tell you that the majority of our conversations are centering on salaries and insurance costs.
- answered by Stephen Tomlinson, Superintendent of Schools

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