Guilderland schools mull major cuts

Guilderland school officials and residents played tug-of-war with the district's budget at a Tuesday, March 24, meeting.

Assistant Superintendent for Business Neil Sanders informally presented the budget, slated for vote at the end of May, alongside a slideshow updating the public on the district's progress.

Some residents said they were opposed to a proposal to make the social worker position at Altamont Elementary School a part-time job; an opinion echoed by several board members shared their concerns.

"Children are feeling the stress their parents feel," said former teacher Yvette Terplak said. "We need people specially trained to cope with these problems. There will be so many instances of an unpredictable nature that will arise."

She said the tough economy weighs on parents, and in turn, on children, and having a full-time social worker can help alleviate some of the pressure on the children. Terplak said she is concerned about what will happen if a student has a "meltdown" while the social worker is not there.

"I believe this position is not a mix-and-match position," she said.

Residents and school board officials also mulled the possibility of funding the tuition for a third student to go to Tech Valley High School, a hands-on technology school that accepts students from all around the region. The district currently pays the $12,000 tuition for two students to attend.

However, cost-cutting budget proposals include holding off on sending additional students to Tech Valley, as well as giving English teachers a fifth course to teach and cutting the purchase of technology hardware.

Sanders said the district is facing "unknowns at a far greater level than we've ever seen before."

He said projected budget numbers include decreases in personnel, and contractual salary increases that account for $311,000.

District Superintendent John McGuire said the "uniqueness" in developing the budget and the "unknowns" coming from state and federal government have made the process difficult.

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