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Guilderland school budget talks begin

Dubowski proposed looking for "funky revenue sources," to supplement what it already brings in.

Weisz echoed Dubowski in his hopes that the district can come out of the difficult financial climate with a progressive attitude.

Weisz boasted that the district was still able to set the tax rate increase at less than 1.50 percent for the 2008-09 school year. The 2008-2009 budget came in at $83,823,160, according to the district's Web site.

"Lets not start the retreat yet," said Weisz.

He also agreed that, as the student population drops, a decrease in teachers should follow.

Board member Barbara Fraterrigo said the district must meet the standards in its physical education department, and support its "wellness" initiatives.

Vice president of the board, John P. Dornbush, said one of his concerns is that there is a gap between the jobs that students are being prepared for and the actual jobs that are out there.

He also is looking for creative ways to use successful programs without spending more money.

"There are things happening that we can begin to replicate now, without spending more dollars," Dornbush said.

He also said funding the public school system with property taxes is not working, and the board should consider using an income tax instead.

A student group led by activist Elijah Sharma, a senior at Guilderland High School, earlier this year launched a campaign to protest the budget as a result of the board's treatment of former high school social studies teachers Matt Nelligan and Ann Marie McManus.

The two were involuntarily transferred to the middle school as a result of a "culture climate inquiry" conducted by an independent third party over the summer. Nelligan has since left the district.

Sharma and close to 15 others protested outside of Guilderland High School earlier in the day Wednesday. Sharma said he wanted the group, United for McManus and Nelligan, to make a showing for students and parents as school was let out. He is urging voters to not approve the budget in May and to replace any board members up for re-election who voted for the transfer of the two teachers.

Sharma said his group will be organizing door-to-door campaigns and searching for events to attend. He also said there is going to be a fundraising effort to bolster the group's efforts.""

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