South Colonie holds first budget talk

The South Colonie Central School District held its first budget discussion of the season Tuesday, Jan. 13, focusing on transportation, operations and maintenance, as well as the district's secured youth detention facility.

Every seat was filled at the district office, as Board of Education President Tim Ryan and Superintendent of Schools Jonathan Buhner thanked district residents for coming to the first meeting and emphasized their efforts to craft a cost-conscious budget during difficult economic times.

The meeting began with a presentation by Director of Transportation Peter Tunny, who presented a proposed budget in the transportation department of $4,328,488 a 3.58 percent increase over last year's.

Tunny said a large portion of the budget comes from unfunded state mandates, one of includes the screening of transportation employees. Another included the transportation of special needs students who live within the district to schools located miles away. According to Tunny, the district is required to cover the transportation of special needs students up to a certain distance.

In the future, Tunny said, the district's budget will start to see the impact of even more unfunded mandates, including the inclusion of a left stop-arm to all school buses. Tunny said there are approximately 72 buses out on a daily basis in the district.

But in the area of fuel, Tunny said the district was able to budget less money.

We've actually begun to see the benefit of the falling gas prices," Tunny said. "So we're proposing no change in that."

Tunny also explained the large amount of money the district saves on a yearly basis by replacing several buses on the district's fleet before the maintenance costs of the vehicles get unmanageable. The district brings the bus replacements to a vote for taxpayers in the district every October.

One audience member asked Tunny if it would be cost effective to leave the buses at the last school they stop at in the morning until dismissal, as opposed to driving back and forth to the bus garage all day. Tunny said that probably would not work out because, "You want the buses in a secure location."

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