Guilderland school budget talks begin

Members of the Guilderland Board of Education had a chance to weigh in on their priorities for the 2009 school budget at the Wednesday, Oct. 22, meeting.

The discussion took many directions, and included warnings of a shaky economy, as well as a push by some members to not cut programming simply because of the state's financial woes.

School Board President Richard Weisz said that at the preliminary stages of the budget it is important to talk about programs and initiatives generally, without discounting anything due to funding yet.

When you put dollars on it, the conversation takes a different tone, he said.

Board member Gloria Towle-Hilt said her priority for the upcoming budget is to have good education at a reasonable cost.

She said the district should not try to take on new initiatives, and worried about maintaining the ones now.

Board Member Colleen O'Connell, said the district should also employ some environmentally friendly initiatives.

She recommended having one student in families with multiple kids attending school bring "backpack items" home to save money.

She also said with the district's student population shrinking, school officials might need to decrease the number of teachers.

Board Member Hy Dubowski said another possible green initiative is to increase the number of teleconferences, cutting down on the amount of traveling done by those working in the school district.

Dubowski said he is an advocate of "alternative learning," such as summer programs, grammar "boot-camp," and lectures from renowned professors.

"How can we partner up with other schools?" he asked.

Dubowski said he wants to see Guilderland feature an "institute for academic excellence."

Dubowski had a less conservative approach to programming for the district, although he did acknowledge the fiscal constraints.

"I would not want to back off in this district," Dubowski said. "We need to move forward."

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