Rensselaer Superintendent ‘cautiously optimistic’ on budget vote day

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RENSSELAER, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A number of local school districts are holding budget votes Tuesday, including the Rensselaer City School District. They’re hopeful for a better year after two failed votes led to significant cuts last year.

The district is facing a revenue deficit issue from last year’s budget, but with aid and some new strategies, Superintendent Joseph Kardash believes this new plan will put them in a much better position.

The proposed tax increase is 8.8%, compared to last year’s proposed 19.5% increase. It would reinstate funding for athletics and extracurriculars.

“Everyone I’ve spoken to seems to be much more on board with the budget than last year,” Kardash said.

Besides a lower tax increase, Kardash believes the district’s handling of the pandemic has garnered some support behind the budget as well.

“People seemed to be pretty satisfied with how we communicated it out,” Kardash said, “and what we were able to offer with limited resources.”

It took a lot of work to keep sports going at Rensselaer this year with athletics cut from the budget. Students, staff, and the surrounding community turned their focus to fundraising. Thanks to an influx of state aid, the Rensselaer school board proposed a $200,000 allocation to athletics for the 2021-2022 school year.

“Our students are excited to have some reassurance that hopefully they’ll have sports and extracurriculars, and not be on the hook for how much we can raise and what we can offer,” Kardash told NEWS10.

The district says with their larger class sizes and low spending per student, there is little left to reduce if this budget doesn’t pass, and that it will be forced to eliminate sports and extracurricular activities. They say the rest of the difference will need to come from their depleted fund balance, worsening the fiscal crisis.

The budget vote is Tuesday from noon to 9 p.m. in the district’s auditorium foyer.

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