Guilderland residents went back and forth debating the merits of school services and programs on the chopping block for five meetings, only to find out Tuesday, March 31, that federal stimulus money would restore millions of dollars of aid cuts.
On Tuesday, the citizens budget advisory committee weighed in with suggestions on how to best use the restored funding, and some members expressed concern that the budget they were discussing in the first four meetings is not the one that will be voted on in May.
The assumption is a full restoration of the state aid cut in Gov. [David] Paterson's budget, said Superintendent John McGuire, reminding those in attendance of the "very large cautionary words" the districts were given. "Don't put this money in long-term programs; it's going away."
He added that there were still many "unknowns" and that some questions about the funding, such as spending limitations, are still unanswered.
At the meeting, a preliminary $85 million spending plan, which includes a 1.49 percent tax increase, was recommended by the committee. Before federal stimulus aid was allocated, the proposed tax hike was 3.89 percent.
The committee's recommendation includes a 2.1 percent increase over last year's budget.
A final budget proposal was made at the Tuesday, April 7, school board meeting after The Spotlight went to press. Check back at www.spotlightnews.com for an update on the budget scheduled to be voted on in May.
Paterson proposed a $2.7 million cut in state aid to schools, in addition to other cuts, to help mitigate the state's multi-billion dollar budget deficit.
Some programs that were once ruled out for the 2009-2010 school year, such as full-day kindergarten, are now back on the table.
The Guilderland Central School District was originally prepared to go forward with the program but the economy forced them to reconsider. However, now that funding will be restored, the program is expected to be included in the budget proposal to be voted on in May.