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Guilderland school budget includes full-day kindergarten

After hours of deliberation and three separate votes on the full-day-K issue, the Guilderland School Board drafted a budget proposal that includes full-day Kindergarten.

Superintendent John McGuire brought a budget proposal to the Guilderland School Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, April 7, that did not include a full-day program, a topic that was debated numerous times at school board and citizen's budget advisory committee meetings.

The budget proposal passed 8-0, and represents an $85,320,425 spending plan, a 1.79 percent increase in spending from this year's budget. If passed, it will result in approximately a 0.58 percent tax increase or $11 on $100,000 of assessed value- after the STAR reduction, which would be the lowest in more than 15 years, according to information from the district.

Richard Weisz, the board's president, was the champion of the full-day-K program, and made his pitch to the board members, who initially seemed to favor holding off on the program until the economy gets better.

Is there anybody who really believes the state will not mandate full-day Kindergarten for public schools? Weisz asked. "I can't believe that our state is not going to come back in the next three years and say you have to have full-day Kindergarten."

Weisz said a decrease in student population over the next few years will help the district save money, and ultimately help pay for full-day Kindergarten after stimulus money runs out.

He said there will be 65 fewer high school students next year and 70 the year after that.

"We want great kids and great families to move to Guilderland," he said. He said he was worried about a decrease in demand for Guilderland property if the district did not offer full-day Kindergarten, which would ultimately drive down property value and tax revenue.

Board member Barbara Fraterrigo spoke out against full-day Kindergarten, and voiced concerns about the tax implications of the program after state and federal funding runs out.

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