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RCS leaders await state budget before finalizing 2016-17 school district budget

State lawmakers are in the final stages of adopting a 2016-17 state budget with Friday, April 1 as the deadline if they want to continue their five-year record of having an on-time budget. Once the state budget is finalized, Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk officials will receive firm state aid revenue projections, and can then make decisions before finalizing the district’s 2016-17 school budget.

As they work to develop a district budget for the 2016-17 school year, RCS Superintendent Robert Libby, Business Administrator Joanne Moran and district department heads have given four presentations to Board of Education members that breakdown various components of the budget.

Each week’s presentation has centered on different focus areas, including instruction, special education, athletics, technology, transportation, operations and maintenance, and general support.

“Without a state budget in place, it is a bit of a guessing game,” Moran said during the March 22 board meeting. “We are planning for different situations to make sure that we are able to get a balanced budget to the voters in May.”

The most recent draft of RCS’s 2016-17 budget shows a $263,091 gap between projected revenue and planned expenditures. On March 22, Moran presented three scenarios for eliminating the gap: reducing expenditures, gaining additional state aid, or a combination of reducing expenditures and finding additional revenues including more state aid.

Since the 2009-10 school year, New York State has withheld money from every school district’s state aid allocation to help makeup for the state’s own revenue shortfalls. That withholding is known as the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA).

The next budget presentation to the Board of Education is scheduled for 7 p.m., Tuesday, April 5. Members of the public are welcome and encouraged to attend.

The RCS Board of Education plans to adopt a proposed 2016-17 budget on April 19. A formal public hearing on the budget proposal is scheduled for 7 p.m., Tuesday, May 3, in the high school library. Residents will vote on the proposed spending plan on Tuesday, May 17.