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Sports On The Chopping Block In Revised Rensselaer School Budget

Superintendent Joseph Kardash
Superintendent Joseph Kardash

The Rensselaer City School Board met virtually Thursday night to lay out its new proposed budget ahead of a July 28 revote.

After voters defeated the first budget proposal in June, Superintendent Joseph Kardash says the Board of Education had to make some difficult reductions in order to adopt a budget for a second public vote.

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"As we put the revenue side together, and we look at a multi-year plan, we're asking for a 9 percent tax increase. That'll be a fund balance, we'll have to appropriate one point, almost $1.9 million in fund balance, which will leave is with $2.9 million in fund balance. It's important to keep in mind what we're trying to do is mitigate, or lengthen the time it takes to run out of money. So, if we compare the first budget to the second budget, we have further reduced another $523,000 from the first budget a month ago. The initial proposed levy was $9.18 million. The second proposed levy is $8.38 million. It's a reduction of $806,000. It goes from 19 1/2 percent increase to a 9 percent increase."

Kardash says $1.87 million will need to be appropriated in order to balance the budget after cuts and reductions are factored in. That's an increase of $283,000 over the previous proposal, which was voted down 1,130 to 560.

Kardash says the district is identifying any and all cuts that can be made.

"By using every aspect of everything we have in trying to make sure that we don't spend any more than necessary."

The entire sports budget had to be cut, but Kardash says he anticipates community funding can cover the $219,000 cost.

"This is the generosity that we're gonna expect to see from Rensselaer, offering to sponsor a student. We're working, one of the themes, so we always try to make as many things educational as possible, one of the themes we'll have this year for our students is advocacy. We have a juniors and seniors that wanna advocate and make sure they get their sports programs together. We've kind of pointed them in the right direction and given them some resources. Hopefully we're going to be able to partner with the RAA and with the Alumni Association to make channels for donations so that there's a common, easy way for people to ask for donations, for people to write checks for donations. And the community will be able to fund sports, fund the athletics, and potentially even extracurriculars."

Kardash promises more information will come out in the next week or two. There will be a hearing for qualified voters at the Rensselaer City School District Campus at 5:30 p.m. on July 16th. More than 60 percent of city residents will have to cast "yes" votes to pass the proposed $27.18 million budget on Tuesday, July 28. Polls will be open 12 noon to 9 p.m.

If it fails, a contingency budget will be implemented, likely with additional cuts.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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