SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Saratoga Springs City School District held a Board of Education meeting on Jan. 18. mainly to discuss annual staffing and pre-budget forecasting.
The meeting began with a performance from student musicians in the jazz band. The Varsity Girls Cross Country Team was also recognized. In the 2021 season, the team was Suburban Council Champions, Section 2 Champions, competed in the State Championship, and won the NYS Federation Championship; collectively, the team had just under a 93 GPA.
Superintendent Dr. Michael Patton informed the Board he has been in conversations with county health officials who believe that the community is reaching a peak in the spike in COVID-19 cases following holiday break, and that the district can expect a decline.
As of Jan. 11, SSCSD has officially implemented the “Test-To-Stay” protocols. These protocols have been approved by the CDC and state-level health officials for all schools, giving parents the opportunity to have their students tested who would otherwise be quarantined.
The district will be offering a COVID-19 booster clinic on Saturday, Jan. 29 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Maple Avenue Middle School. The district is currently looking for community volunteers to help with the clinic. For more information, visit the district’s website at saratogaschools.org.
The district currently employees 1,118 staff members, clarifying that anyone in an instructional position holds certification issues by NYSED, and everyone else is approved by the NYS Department of Civil Service.
SSCSD is among other school districts nationwide that have had staffing impacted by the pandemic; for SSCSD there was a substitute shortage specifically. In December 2021 alone, there was 64% fill rate for subs, and so far, this January the fill rate is at 50%. Throughout the pandemic, there have been only 13 nurses across the district doing contract tracing and working with students.
Continued challenges the district is expected to see in the 2022-2023 school year are recruitment, retirement, and retention.
The district’s goals for the 2022-2023 budget are 1) new program requests (staying on top of the already allocated budget for curriculum renewal), professional development, and review of hardware and software allocations; 2) student support services for general and special education and social/emotional support; and 3) infrastructure planning and operations for emergencies and repairs. Infrastructure and operations did not receive the funds the district was expecting in the 2021-2022 budget, therefore it was put back on the budget with the hopes of eventually increasing funds for it over time. It was also noted that the district should already start thinking about the next capital project.
Some important dates/time frames to keep in mind for 2022 regarding the 2022-2023 school budget vote are as follows (subject to change):
March: Budget Workshops
April 1: Legislative Budget Expected
April 12: Budget Adoption
Early May: Budget Hearing
May 17: Budget Vote
Watch the full meeting online at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIUbA8-yTVY.