Districts await stimulus details

Area school districts are waiting on the federal government to provide them with details about stimulus money designated to help keep vital programs afloat.

On Friday, Feb. 13, Congress passed a $787 billion plan, which is slated to filter through to state school districts and help maintain services and possibly keep teachers employed.

Both the Guilderland and Voorheesville school districts are waiting on more information about the parameters for spending the federal money, and a Voorheesville representative said that information could factor in the district's decision about whether there will be layoffs next year.

Raymond Colucciello, interim Superintendent for the Voorheesville Central School District, said until more solid information can be provided by the federal government, the district is playing the waiting game.

Colucciello said the district is expecting some stimulus money, however, it is still unclear the guidelines for spending the money.

Some of the funding included is $44,000 for building aid and $133,000 for the special education department, but those categories, Colucciello said, are vague.

We don't know what 'building aid' means, he said.

Colucciello said it could refer to windows, roofing, walls or a number of other factors.

"At this point, we're still collecting information. The ink is still drying on President Obama's signature," he said. "The devil is in the details."

He said in the past the federal government has been specific about what expenses districts can put the federal funds toward.

Colucciello said the district cannot make any guarantees about who, if anyone, will be laid off, until more information is known.

He said there is a public forum scheduled for Monday, March 2, to discuss the specifics once they are made available. He said the district is welcoming online feedback as well.

Guilderland Superintendent John McGuire said his district is not making any decisions about how to proceed with federal funding until more information is gathered as well.

"We've been very cautious about making any assumptions here," McGuire said.

McGuire also said the district is still considering other cost-saving options and is considering a study to determine if there is any need for administrative restructuring.

A preliminary study by the Capital District School Development Association recommended the district take a closer look at the issue.

McGuire said the district has "rational" administrative and supervisory structure.

"We're certainly not administratively top heavy," he said.

He added the district will study the efficiency of the special education department as well.""

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