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Guilderland schools mull major cuts

"It's cruel and inhumane what the state of New York is doing," said board member Denise Eisele.

Fellow board member John P. Dornbush echoed her frustration in the face of government delays that have hindered the budget process.

"We're doing the best we can here," said Dornbush. "I just want those out there in the audience to understand what we're up against here. We'll continue to struggle with this and fine tune this."

Eisele said she supports a full -time social worker at Altamont Elementary.

"It's a good program. It's a necessary program," she said.

Other board members said the proposed budget unevenly favors the high school.

"My overall problem with the budget is equality of the levels," said board member Colleen O'Connell.

She said the middle school is taking the brunt of the cuts, though not losing very many students, while the high school is taking too few cuts. O'Connell cited the science enrichment program as an example of a middle school initiative that should be kept intact.

"Something's got to give at the middle school," she said.

She added the high school's technology budget is "too rich," and said she wants to see results of Tech Valley before sending another student.

Joe Laurenzo, chief technology specialist for the district, spoke on behalf of the need to continue to provide top-level hardware for students.

He said opposition has been voiced about increasing spending on technology at the expense of personnel, but he pointed out the importance of keeping the hardware up to date.

"It's not so much equipment [as] it is personnel tools," Laurenzo said.

He said buying new computers will save on repair costs and pay off in the long run.

Dornbush said he supports the technology spending.

"If you're not keeping up, you're falling behind," he said.

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