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Niskayuna schools facing tough cuts

While the proposed 2 percent tax cap has influenced school districts during their current budgeting process, Sosnow said the Niskayuna board might opt for a higher increase. Once the cuts are outlined for the 2 percent increase, she said, the public might generally opt to pay a higher tax increase to help support programs.

"We want to find the right balance between the appropriate level of spending and the tax increase the community is willing to accept. I think if we can adequately explain what we would lose, then I think there would be more public willingness to go with a slightly higher tax cap," she said.

A total of 50 positions would be cut in the superintendent's reductions, including 22 teachers, 24 support staffers and 3 administrators. Also, class offerings could be reduced by 12 to 15, said Baughman, which would affect the number of elective courses offered.

"It will affect students' ability to take courses of interest or would help them in terms of their college applications," he said. "A lot of our students like to take more than a full load. The ability to pursue interests and a rigorous curriculum is affected when you begin to reduce your offerings.

One position in the level 2 reductions, which was also generally supported in the recent budget survey, is the elimination of one high school assistant principal, totaling $110,000 in savings. This would leave the high school with three administrators for more than 1,400 students, said Baughman, which would have 475 students per administrator with one already responsible for guidance and scheduling.

"You don't have a lot of extra hands walking around helping kids," he said about administrative cuts.

If all athletic-related reductions were to be accepted, the sports program would have an overall reduction nearing $130,000. Some level 2 sports reductions include reducing the sports medicine trainer time by half, eliminating modified assistant crew coaches in the spring, eliminating boys' freshman lacrosse and eliminating assistant coaches in basketball, wrestling, track and field and diving. Level 3 sports reductions would include eliminating fall JV and varsity cheerleading. The final cuts in the last level would eliminate all freshman and modified sports, as well as the indoor track program.

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