Guilderland School District prepares for deep cuts

Gov. David Paterson wrote a letter on Tuesday, Nov. 25, to state school board presidents and superintendents to warn them that without mid-year cuts this year, next year's budget will likely be on the chopping block instead.

Guilderland officials responded to the letter later that week, stating budget cuts could be detrimental to students and the community. They also cited some ways the district is planning to trim spending going forward.

Deeper reductions in education spending will now be required in next year's budget to close the state's budget gap, warned the governor's office in a written statement.

The state faces a $47 billion budget deficit over the next four years, including at least $1.5 billion this year and $12.5 billion next year, according state officials.

Paterson wrote in the letter that the need to reduce state funding for schools could have a silver lining for the education system.

"Perhaps this crisis presents an invaluable opportunity for us to improve the structure of our educational system and how it is financed. I welcome any suggestions you may have," Paterson wrote.

Information provided by the Guilderland School District indicated that state aid funds more than a quarter of the budget and is one of two major sources of funding for the district.

"We recognize the fiscal crisis before us, and that we all need to play a part in solving the problem," said Superintendent John McGuire. "But significantly cutting funding to education will negatively impact our students and taxpayers."

The district has already made moves to cut spending to prepare for future state cuts. It has "realized $1.7 million in cost-avoidance savings by being more energy efficient," according to district officials. It has also saved more than $565,000 in health insurance by offering new prescription plans.

Spending has been partially frozen in several areas, including "paper consumption, copying and mailings, equipment, conferences, field trips, overtime, and the utilization of substitutes," according to district officials.

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