SCHENECTADY — The City of Schenectady School District has launched an online survey to solicit community feedback as it prepares to begin formulating its 2022-23 operating budget.
The poll, available on the municipality’s website, invites input on a range of topics that will impact students in the future, including the importance of technology in the classroom, social and mental health services and the importance of a variety of school programs, including sports and art.
In addition, the survey also solicits suggestions on which programs should be prioritized during the budget process and which should be reduced or eliminated.
The survey is the start of a months-long process the district will undertake to formulate its budget for next year. The budget is expected to be approved by the Board of Education in April, before going to a final community vote on May 17.
This year’s budget process will be a little different from years past, according to Superintendent Anibal Soler.
For starters, the district is set to receive all of its state aid, an increase of more than $15 million, following a court ruling last year that schools weren’t being properly funded for years.
The cash injection, expected for the next two years, also changed how the district will approach the budget this year, according to Soler.
Instead of carrying forward the current budget and adding additional funds to certain line items like in past years, the district will essentially start over, basing the upcoming budget on the needs of each school in the district.
Soler attributed the new approach to his recent arrival in the district, but said the strategy will allow for more equitable learning opportunities for students. Soler began his tenure with the district last July.
“Usually you just roll the budget over and go from there, except we’re kind of going to reset,” he said. “We also wanted to have a school budget that was fair but really considered the needs of the school instead of being top down saying you only get x, y and z.”
Soler said district administrators are currently meeting with building superintendents to better understand what their needs are and what gaps exist between elementary and middle schools in the district.
The ultimate goal is to provide equitable opportunities for students across the district, so that if a student is forced to change schools in the middle of a school year, they can make the transition seamlessly.
He added that while the budget process is still in its early stages, the district plans to set aside a reserve of money for teachers to purchase school supplies, which has never happened in the district before. , Soler said.
An update on the budget process is expected at the next Education Council meeting on February 16.
Contact journalist Chad Arnold at: 518-410-5117 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.
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