Public meetings to be held for new Niskayuna budget - NEWS10 ABC: Albany, New York News, Weather, Sports

Public meetings to be held for new Niskayuna budget

NISKAYUNA, N.Y. – Niskayuna School District leaders will be holding informational presentations on the revised budget, which is set to send voters back to the polls next Tuesday.

The Board of Education made an additional $630,000 worth of cuts after the first proposed budget failed. The change means a drop to a 3.95 percent tax levy increase. In order to reduce that percentage, the board cut several full-time positions and allotted athletics and clubs funding.

There is also a proposed $200,000 reduction which would involve privatizing bus service. Earlier Tuesday nearly 60 bus drivers made a decision to take the district to court.

The presentation, designed to help town residents learn more about the new changes, was held at 7:30 p.m. at Van Antwerp Middle School.

The board of education admitted Tuesday night that the community is at a crossroads in determining the future of the Niskayuna school district, weighing the level of education students will receive and the property taxes residents pay.

"I am scared to death because the stakes are so high," says Katie Beltramo, fighting back tears.

If the district's budget fails for a second time, by law a contingency budget will be forced into place.

Beltramo showed up to Tuesday's board meeting with "vote yes" signs and stickers.

"My ten year old wants to play soccer at the high school someday and both my girls sing," says Beltramo.  "There are all of these classes that we could potentially lose and all of these things that make the school experience what it is."

But some residents, like Evan Brooksby, say they are still on the fence as how to vote next week.

"I have a budget I have to live in in my home," says Brooksby.  "It is not fair for them to continually come back to me and say yes, I understand you're continually doing more with less, but we want more and more."

Other residents worry about a possible lawsuit from district bus drivers, who plan to vote against their contract which includes outsourcing transportation.

"I think you really need to think about what the litigation costs might be in years to come," says Sunny Lee.  "If we lose litigation, it's not going to be over in a year or two years.  Probably, five, six or seven.  If we lose, we're going to have to pay all of those salaries of those bus drivers who are going to lose their jobs."

Beltramo says she is hoping for the best on June 18th.

"If this doesn't pass, I want to know I did everything I could," says Beltramo.

Another meeting will take place 6 p.m. at the Town Hall Wednesday, and voting will take place from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on June 18 in the Niskayuna High School Orchestra Room. 

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