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G'land residents pleads for equity in budget cuts

At its Tuesday, March 23, meeting, the Guilderland Board of Education held an informal hearing on the 2010-11 school year budget, with the public urging the district to be equitable in making cuts to balance the budget.

The public comments began with two parents urging the district to not raise kindergarten class sizes.

The chances that 24 5-year-olds are going to be in a room for six hours it's not going to be effective," said Joanne Ryan.

Ryan's husband, Tim Ryan, said a number of other items cut from the budget can be replaced over time, but "what you can't take back is a kid's first year in the school district."

Christy McCain, the mother of a special needs student currently sent out of district for services, at a cost of $60,000 per year, said the district should consider providing more in-house services for special needs students.

"Providing programs within would be much more cost-effective," she said.

Kevin Mawson, the father of a student with Down's syndrome at Farnsworth Middle School, said that the cuts to 36.3 special education teaching assistants and the special education administrator at the middle school, are not equitable.

"I beg of you to make sure cuts that are made are fair and equitable to all students," he said.

A number of people advocating for the continuation of the middle school's German-language program noted statistics about use of the German in the world today, and said the language offering makes the district unique.

"It saddens me to think the great opportunity open to me won't be open to younger students," said Sarah Jones, a sixth-grader at Farnsworth.

After the public comment period, Neil Sanders, assistant superintendent for business for the district, gave a brief synopsis of the budget as it currently stands.

He talked about balancing the $7 million budget deficit through a 3.61 percent increase in the tax levy, the use of rainy day funds, program cuts and cutting 10.7 elementary teaching positions, 4.65 middle school teaching positions and 7 high school teaching positions.

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