The Ballston Journal, Ballston Spa Central School District, Health and Wellness Expo

Health care, pensions bump district budget

The chairs and back tables were filled with students, parents and community members for the Tuesday, Feb. 12 Ballston Spa Central School District Board of Education meeting. The promise of information on the district’s 2013-2014 Budget Planning and Development process was the key point of the agenda driving the large turnout.

However, the first order of business was official recognition of the student council from Milton Terrance South.

The Ballston Journal, Ballston Spa Central School District, Joseph Dragone, Milton Terrace SouthJeffrey Palmer, principal of Milton Terrace South, welcomed Mr. Roach from the VFW Post 358 of Ballston Spa to share his experience of a special lunch with the student council members and the hundreds of letters they brought with them.

“We had a wonderful lunch,” Roach said. “They brought hand written thank you notes and shared stories of veterans in their family.”

District superintendent Joseph Dragone then stepped up to the podium to address the budget and several of the components affecting it. Health care and pensions were the first two topics items on his list.

“The health care for 2013-2014 will be about $12 million,” Dragone said. “This is an increase of $1 million from the current year. The retirement system has increased over the past five years 162.5 percent.”

Dragone went on to explain the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) law introduced by then-Gov. David Paterson to help close New York’s budget deficit. The reduction in school aid is a negative number, or money that is deducted from the aid originally due to the district.

In 2010, the GEA was a negative $2.52 million. For the 2011-2012 school year, the GEA was a negative $4.6 million. For the current school year (2012-2013), the GEA is a negative $3.39 million.

There is no definitive answer as to how much state aid the Ballston Spa Central School District will receive this year.

“A 4.4 percent increase in aid doesn’t mean that each district will receive a 4.4 percent increase,” Dragone said. “There is no rhyme or reason to the formulas. We are considered average in the ranking for wealth for the aid per student in our district.”

At the close of his presentation Dragone outlined expectations for the next meeting. The budget presentation then will include the draft of the 2013-2014 budget, revenue estimates, the allowable tax levy limit calculation and the next steps in preparing to finalize the budget.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 6 at 7 p.m. at the high school library.

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