Leading up to the release of the preliminary $89 million budget on Tuesday, March 15, the South Colonie Central School District held an informal question and answer session in the library of the Shaker Road Elementary school with community parents.
It was a small crowd consisting of parents, members of the Board of Education, the Superintendent and the Assistant Superintendent all sat in chairs made for elementary school children. They went back and forth on issues such as class sizes, possible teacher layoffs and preserving school programs.
Superintendent Jon Buhner stressed Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposal of cutting education aid by $1.5 billion and that there has been a shift in costs from the state government to the local government. It's putting a strain on the district, but he said the district working with what it has.
We're working very hard to save as much of the instructional budget as we can, said Assistant Superintendent for Management Services Beverly Miller. "Not everything can be saved. But we're trying."
The main focus of the meeting was how the district plans to avoid any sort of eliminations of programs. Whether it be educational programs or athletic programs. So the alternative is to scale some of them back, according to Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Tim Backus.
One parent, Deb Marchand asked if there were going to be any cuts to freshman sports, but Backus reassure her and said the district would have to reduce certain portions of the programs as opposed to just cutting them entirely.
"I do seem some assisting coaching positions [being eliminated]," he said. "And some cooperative bidding and purchasing to get equipment and scaling back games, but not transferring to elimination."
Backus added that there will also be some trimming of the middle school sports programs, where the district may reduce the number of games and other things.