Each spring, we develop a budget for the upcoming school year that is decided on by district voters in May. Every vote matters and it is important to be an informed voter. I hope you find this information helpful in understanding the Hudson City School District’s proposed budget for the next school year. The date of the annual school budget vote and Board of Education election is Tuesday, May 21, 2019.
The HCSD proposes a $49,792,463 spending plan that continues to support our Vision 2020 goals to: raise the bar, close the achievement gap, align curriculum and instruction, and promote the social-emotional development of our students. From increasing Math supports to investing in college- and career-readiness, this budget touches on all our district goals.
Since 2013, our district has been on the rise. The district graduation rate hit 80% in 2018, up from 59% just six years ago. We are proud of our growth and committed to continuous improvement.
Last year we added dedicated curricula and teachers for STEAM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math) at the elementary and junior high schools. The budget would continue to support interdisciplinary STEAM education. It also aims to grow partnerships with higher education institutions such as SUNY Cobleskill to broaden the college credit opportunities available to high school students.
The proposed budget aims to strengthen academic programs, educational opportunities as well as school safety initiatives. It would continue to support School Gate Guardian, the visitor management system that reviews and tracks all school visitors.
The budget would also maintain the School Resource Officers (SROs) who support safety initiatives on both campuses five days a week. An officer from the Hudson Police Department and a deputy from the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office would continue their assignments in our schools next year. In addition to on-site security, the SROs support the District with the planning and practice of safety drills and serve as educators and mentors for students.
For 2019-20, the District would pay $40,000 each to the City of Hudson and Columbia County for these positions, covering approximately 50% of the average yearly salaries for these city/county employees.
As residents of this district, the Board and I understand the burdens felt by taxpayers so we strive to balance the needs of our students with the needs of our community. Historically, our budgets stay within the tax cap and will do so again. The maximum tax levy increase calculated under New York State’s tax cap guidelines is 2.5 percent. However, for the third year in a row, the Board of Education decided to reduce the tax levy and propose a budget with a smaller increase of 2.3 percent. Because this is within the allowable tax increase, qualifying homeowners would get a property tax rebate from the state.
Speaking of taxes, some are concerned about how property value reassessments affect school taxes. Many in the City of Hudson experienced changes to property values following recent reassessments. While school districts have no direct role in the reassessment process, I want to share some information about the process and how it relates to school taxes.
Property values generally change over time. A reassessment involves a municipality reviewing all properties to establish assessments that reflect their current market value. This ensures that all property owners are paying their fair share of the tax burden. Based on changes in the real estate market, the local assessor will determine which assessments need to be increased or decreased.
With a reassessment comes a shift in the tax burden to those whose property values have risen faster than average. This process does not increase the amount that schools collect in taxes. Rather, it generally results in some redistribution of the total amount paid in taxes among property owners. It is a common misunderstanding that a reassessment will automatically increase taxes and/or be a windfall for schools or local governments. This is not the case.
If your assessment changes, you should not assume your taxes will increase. Your taxes may go up, down or stay the same. The impact on your taxes will depend on how your assessment changes in proportion to the assessment changes made throughout your town. If you have questions, please contact your local assessor’s office. Furthermore, with increased property assessments, a reduction in the school tax rate is typical. Because the total amount collected in taxes is not related to the reassessment, if values have increased, it requires a lower rate to generate the same total amount of revenue.*
Of the total proposed budget, less than 50% comes from taxpayers. The rest is supported by state funds and other sources.
A newsletter will be mailed to all district residents that outlines the school budget proposal. I encourage you to read it thoroughly and cast your vote next Tuesday, May 21st from noon to 9 p.m. at your designated polling location. In addition to voting on the budget, residents will elect three members to the Board of Education. To learn more, visit our Budget Information webpage.
*Adapted from Capital Region BOCES School Communications Portfolio and reprinted with permission.
This column was published in the Register-Star on May 14, 2019.