Area schools face tough budget choices

One thing that could be affected by cuts is the number of teacher's aides in the classrooms. Guilderland remains one of the only area districts that still has aides in many of the kindergarten classrooms.

"Cutting back on staff, such as aides, has a huge effect on instructional success. I liked the fact that there was an extra pair of hands in my daughter's classroom," said Guilderland mom Tara Attanasio.

Guilderland Superintendent John McGuire said the district stands to get $2.7 million less in state aid than it received for 2007-2008. He said that reductions in all areas are imminent but eliminating entire programs is not. The district plans to hold informational meeting and discussion groups throughout March. McGuire said district officials know they cannot put too much of a burden on already cash-strapped taxpayers.

"Right now, we are working internally to see how we can ensure meeting the needs of all our 5,300 students," said McGuire. "We are working really hard to balance the reductions we make."

McGuire said staff reductions are a possibility, but some programs may continue to grow, such as special education programs.

In Scotia-Glenville, a program new this year, Brite Beginnings, will add to more students next year. The program is for autistic elementary-age students and is held at the Glen Worden Elementary School. The program currently has four students and could possibly expand to eight next year.

Special Education Teacher Lois Long said she is grateful they were able to obtain the funding and offer a program that allows students to integrate into the traditional school setting.

"It's amazing to see the changes in these students. We are very thankful we have had this opportunity," said Long.

Scotia-Glenville will probably see cuts of a few thousand dollars in state aid. Superintendent Susan Swartz said what that means for the districts is that the possibility of adding new programs or expanding current ones disappears.

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