Niskayuna schools facing tough cuts

Reductions total $5M to reach 2 percent tax increase

Niskayuna Central School District is looking at a similar financial scenario as other districts, with state and federal aid expected to be reduced by $2.9 million and budget gap of about $6 million that will have to be closed.

On Tuesday, March 1, Superintendent Kevin Baughman outlined possible cuts the district could make, totaling just over $5 million, and the Board of Education is well aware of the tough choices required to meet the proposed 2 percent tax increase. The superintendent's reductions are presented through four different levels, with level 1 reductions being strongly recommended and having little impact on students and level 4 reductions having the greatest impact on students. The BOE is expected to accept mostly all of the level 1 cuts, which total just under $2 million, but the subsequent $3 million in cuts won't be as easy to make.

We knew we had to find between $4 and $5 million to see what it looks like, said Baughman. "For the last 2 to 3 years, we have been going at the edges of our schools and reduced areas in the office. After a while you have very little left that doesn't immediately hit the classroom. It doesn't take long to get into the classroom now, unfortunately."

Jeanne Sosnow, president of the BOE, said the board has yet to target a tax increase to reach, but members are currently looking at the 125 reductions outlined by the superintendent and will try to reach a common ground on how to move forward. After areas are looked to be cut, said Sosnow, the board would then see if the tax increase was palatable to the community.

"This is a very difficult year. Once we account for the recommended reductions in the level 1 list, we pretty quickly get into reductions in programming that will have an impact with the students and the character of Niskayuna schools," said Sosnow. "Each one of those items has students and parents that participate and want the program to continue, so there are going to be some very difficult decisions for the board."

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