The Guilderland board of education held a public input session on its proposed budget Tuesday, Oct. 10, at the high school.
This was the eighth consecutive year in which Guilderland residents have been given the opportunity to address the board with budget questions, com-ments and concerns.
We've gotten some good ideas in the past, said Superintendent Greg Aidala, including the reinstitution of the drivers' education program. "We appreciate the time and effort individuals take to share their comments with the board."
In what school board president Richard Weisz called an "open forum," residents addressed everything from teacher benefits to the music program.
Resident Dave Langenbach kicked off the 30-minute session by telling the board to keep in mind the older, less fortunate residents who don't have students in the district. Langenbach was concerned that if this demographic isn't heeded, a contingency budget in the future could be a possibility. While commending the board for keeping the budget manageable in the past year, he said many residents don't have the means to support an increase in school taxes.
"We're at a breaking point," said Langenbach.
Guilderland residents Ray McQuade and Donald Csaposs said they were concerned about increasing health insurance costs for teachers.
McQuade said that, although teachers are not overpaid, he thought their health insurance program needed to be re-evaluated.
"We need to face it now," said McQuade, "not five or 10 years from now."
McQuade suggested that the money saved by reducing coverage could be split among teachers and the community. McQuade said rising health care costs for retirees should be re-evaluated as it continues to rise along with increased life expectancies.
"You don't want the board of education 10 years from now thinking, 'What were they thinking back then,'" he said.
Csaposs echoed McQuade's concerns.
"I think I could probably just stand here and say, 'Ditto,'" said Csaposs. "It's here, staring us all in the face."