GUILDERLAND: G'land budget makes the cut

The Guilderland School Board approved the administration's $81 million budget for the coming school year at its meeting Tuesday, April 3. The result was a projected tax rate increase of 2.5 percent for property owners, the lowest increase in at least 15 years.

The budget numbers were significantly lower than reported at the previous week's meeting, partly as a result of an additional $400,000 of state aid included in the state budget that passed in the interim. A lot has happened in a week, said Superintendent Gregory Aidala.

Other changes included reductions in projected instructional salaries, special education expenses, health insurance premiums, and transportation costs after feedback from the board members and with new information gleaned in response to questions from the citizens budget advisory committee. For example, projected gasoline expenses were decreased by $15,000 because school buses will not be driving into cul-de- sacs.

A few items in the budget were increased, summer transportation needs and new computers for technology education. Altogether the new calculations shaved $363,000 off the budget.

"Then we had the weekend," said Aidala, referring to the state budget's passing on April 1. The progression went like this: from a tax rate increase of 3.8 percent to 3.2 percent after reconfiguring internal numbers, and finally settling at 2.5 percent after factoring in confirmed state funds.

"When was the last time we had an increase of less than 3 percent?" asked Aidala. "The answer is, not in a very long time."

Board members discussed two controversial staff changes contained in the budget Aidala presented.

A proposed new position, a K-12 technology supervisor, garnered the most discussion.

"We have the opportunity to move the district forward in terms of curriculum, hardware, software and philosophy," said board member Denise Eisle. "I strongly support that position."

Colleen O'Connell, who serves on the facilities planning committee, said hiring a technology supervisor was crucial to "put flesh" on those new facilities.

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